“Hardening Structures”-Protecting our Country’s Vital Electronics-Based Systems!Randy Mitchell
ElectroMagnetic Pulses (EMPs), transient electromagnetic disturbances, evoke the Orwellian thoughts of nuclear explosions that are capable of short-circuiting a wide range of electronic equipment, including computers, satellites, radios, radar receivers, and even traffic lights, plunging the world into the “electronic dark ages”. Though a nuclear weapon is the most commonly thought of cause of an EMP, they can also be caused by solar flares, a close lightning strike, or a massive powerline short circuit. The damage to electrical equipment can range from imperceptible to devices literally blowing apart.
Don’t stay up at night worrying about an EMP, the EMP itself is NOT HARMFUL TO PEOPLE, but the effects of a large EMP on the infrastructure of the country could account for loss of life due to shutdowns in communications, hospitals, transportation systems, banking and financial areas, food, water, and power supply, and other areas of need that could be devastating to a modern society. The likelihood of an EMP of this intensity occurring is slight. There are only two ways that a massive EMP could potentially cause a threat to U.S. Security, these being:
- The EMP of a nuclear weapon detonated 5-25 miles above the middle of the U.S. could, in theory, affect ALL of the continental United States. This effect is caused by gamma rays ejecting electrons into the atmosphere which are deflected sideways by the Earth’s Magnetic Field, radiating this EMP over a wide area. We know this for a fact, as the U.S. detonated a nuclear warhead 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean in 1962. The test led to electronic disturbance 900 miles away in Hawaii with the damage including street lights blown out, telephones going dead, and damaging of U.S., British, and Soviet satellites.
- A Natural Solar Superstorm, also known as a Geomagnetic Disturbance (GMD), which NASA feels has a 10% chance of occurring every decade. A documented event of this nature took place in 1859, causing telegraph circuits to catch on fire.
The chance that a nuclear weapon induced EMP would be used as a weapon against the United States is slight, as our nuclear defense system is already designed to withstand such an EMP attack without damage, and the thought of a U.S. nuclear retaliation will deter any rival governments from launching this type of attack.
While the chance of a nuclear attack induced EMP is unlikely given the balance of power in the world, a GMD is likely an inevitable natural event as “space weather” events happen with some regularity.
It has been proposed that we “harden” our infrastructure systems against EMPs, particularly the communication, defense, medical facilities, information, financial centers, and key distribution points. The term “hardening” meaning “protecting” our electronic devices from the potentially devastating effects of an electromagnetic radiation. If you consider it that way, “hardening” involves the same principles as “shielding” in electrical systems. A great way to “harden” a building or room containing sensitive electronic systems would be to cover the walls of the building containing the sensitive devices with shielding material. The lightest, most flexible shielding materials in the world are Shieldex® metalized textiles that are flexible, soft, and can conform to the shapes of a building or room, protecting it from potential damage caused by an EMP. This method is called “architectural shielding” and is the method the U.S. Government uses to protect its sensitive electronics locations. If you have sensitive electronic equipment that you want protected in your business and home, consider architectural shielding for that area. Please contact us for information on how to use these textiles to protect your vital electronic systems!
V Technical Textiles, Inc.