Understanding and predicting blast loading in urban environments


Following the Beirut Port explosion on 4th August 2020, over 200 people lost their lives, upwards of $15B in property damage was caused, and an estimated 300,000 people were displaced. As a result, a global response emerged to spatially delineate and understand the cause of the resultant injuries and damage caused by the blast.

When a blast wave propagates in the presence of obstacles, the loading differs substantially from that of a free-air blast due to highly non-linear physical processes such as reflection, diffraction, coalescence of multiple shock fronts, shadowing, and confining effects. While Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations can be used to capture the required event complexity, uncertainties persist due to scarce experimental validation data. Replicating large-scale events is often challenging and costly, and so leveraging blast scaling laws to gather empirical data from gram-scale charges provides a useful alternative.

Throughout this talk, the speakers discuss how small-scale explosions can be used to develop insights into city-scale explosive events. Key findings are then used to critically interrogate the suitability of existing numerical solvers for assessing urban blast. This is presented alongside the development of Fast Running Engineering Models (FREMs) that will benefit from the findings made in both aspects of this work.

This evening lecture will be followed by a drink in the Westminster Arms. All attendees are invited to join the lecture chair and speakers at this informal get-together.

About the Speakers

Dr Adam Dennis completed his PhD in the Blast and Impact Dynamics research group at the University of Sheffield in early 2024. His project, titled “Machine Learning Tools for Blast Load Prediction in Obstructed Environments”, explored a range of methods for developing rapid analysis tools that can assist with human injury prediction and structural damage estimations. He is now continuing this work within the group, whilst also acting as numerical modelling lead for commercial and academic research projects.

Dr Dain George Farrimond is a Research Associate in Blast Protection Engineering at the University of Sheffield. Building on from his PhD, titled "Characterisation of Blast Loading from Ideal and Non-ideal Explosives”, he focuses primarily on the development of novel experimental capabilities to continue this research. Particular interests consider the mechanisms behind detonation procedures, with an increasing focus on the complexity of shock wave dynamics within urban environments.

Further information

This event is organised by SECED. The event will be chaired by Andreas Nielsen (AtkinsRéalis). Attendance at this meeting is free for members and non-members alike. 

In person attendance

The event will held in-person at the Institution of Civil Engineers (see map below). Prior registration is not required. Seats are allocated on a first come, first served basis. We encourage everyone to attend in person if they can. 

Online attendance

This event will be broadcast online. Please register for the event prior to joining. The registration process will provide you with the link you need to join the main event.

Link here


The evening lecture is preceded by the EEFIT AGM and the SECED AGM. The programme for the evening is as follows:
18:00-18:15    EEFIT AGM
18:15-18:30    SECED AGM
18:30-20:00    Evening lecture: Understanding and predicting blast loading in urban environments
20:00-20:30    Social event in Westminster Arms, Storey’s Gate

Event Details

Event Date 24/04/2024 6:30 pm
Event End Date 24/04/2024 8:00 pm
Location Institution of Civil Engineers

Location Map