Thanks to fresh funds from the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and from NTNU, SFI CASA is able to step up its work on civil infrastructure security. 1 December was Vegard Aune’s first day as Associate Professor on the topic.
The new position is made possible by a grant of NOK eight million from the ministry, spread over a five-year period. After five years, NTNU takes over responsibility for the position. In addition, NTNU has granted fresh funds to employ a PhD candidate that will cooperate closely with Aune.
“Lack of awareness”
On 2 January, Thor Kleppen Sættem, State Secretary for the Minister of Justice and Public Security, visited CASA to mark the establishment of the new professorship. Sættem met with NTNU’s Rector, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, the Director of CASA and other staff. Department Director John Arne Gisnås from the Ministry and Chief Engineer Rolf Jullum from the Norwegian National Security Agency also took part. They started preparations for future talks on how to prioritize the research and were given a guided tour of CASA’s research facilities.
During the meeting, the State Secretary directed attention towards a lack of awareness concerning civil infrastructure security in Norwegian municipalities. This is particularly the case when it comes to the planning of public buildings and open spaces. Awareness needs to be raised for a number of reasons, including terror, accidents and more extreme weather conditions.
Mr Sættem indicated that stricter security measures may be included in relevant laws and regulations.
To develop cooperation with business and research environments in the field of civil infrastructure security is part of the ministry’s strategy. A particular priority is to look for potential partnerships with chosen players within education and research. In doing so, the ministry wants to cooperate with relevant governmental agencies. The aim is to build competence.
The ministry sees the grant to improve CASA’s ability for further education and research as an effective measure in this context. It also underlines that the contribution will add value to the support already given by the Norwegian National Security Authority.
Content is king
So, how will the money be spent? No-one is closer to answer that than the newly employed Associate Professor. Still, he is quick to point out that it is very early days. Indeed, his first task will be to discuss the matter with the ministry, with his colleagues in CASA and with the partners in the centre.
“Education will certainly be an important part of my job. We need more experts on the behaviour of materials and structures subjected to blast loadings.
I will also have an opportunity to continue the research I started in my PhD work and build further on the international network we are part of.”
Mr Shock Tube
Associate Professor Aune is by no means new to CASA. His name will forever be linked to the acquisition of CASA’s most important test facility in many years: the shock tube.
Research group SIMLab’s benefactor for decades, R&D Director Arnfinn Jenssen in the Norwegian Defence Estates Agency, had stressed the need for a shock tube for 20 years when the decision was finally taken to dedicate a PhD thesis to the project. Vegard Aune got the job.
At the outset, ambitions were limited. CASA even considered buying a mass-produced steel pipe that would only serve for Aune’s thesis.
Thanks in part to a substantial contribution from the Norwegian National Security Authority, the end result was quite different and cost ten times as much as the original budget: a 20 metre long custom-made pipe with innumerable possibilities for recording and measuring blast loads. Since the inauguration three years ago, it has proven an invaluable tool. Aluminium, steel, glass and concrete plates have been subjected to series of blast loads.
This has led to important new knowledge ranging from the effects of an explosion inside a submerged tunnel on the new E39 to the unpredictable behaviour of laminated glass. The latter is of particular interest in the preparations for the huge, new government building complex in central Oslo.
This is also one of the research areas where the added funds from the ministry will provide extra momentum. The shock tube contains many possibilities that haven’t been explored so far. One of them is to put models of buildings and other structures in the middle of the tube. This makes it possible to study how shock waves behave when they meet the model, are captured in confined spaces and pass.
“Why is it necessary to do this research in Norway? Aren’t there shock tubes abroad?”
“Yes, there are. The Ernst-Mach-Institut in Germany and others have them up to road tunnel size. However, hands-on experience with the equipment gives invaluable insight. We now have a custom-built shock tube on our own premises, built specifically to meet our needs. This is a great asset for our students and significantly improves our ability to build competence on the effects of blast loadings,” Aune answers.
It may be added that CASA’s Scientific Advisory Board has pointed out the centre’s unique in-house lab facilities as a major factor in making the centre world leading in its research field.
“The automotive industry has a very strong position in CASA with five of the world’s leading manufacturers as partners. Would it be correct to say that your new position somewhat shifts the balance within the centre?”
“I don’t see it that way. The research we do is generic. A typical illustration is the very large interest from the automotive industry in our research on laminated glass – research that was initially motivated by the desire to protect people inside buildings.”