New UNLV Patent Issued Covers Novel Explosives Deactivation and Impairment Methods

Associate professor of engineering Robert Schill was recently awarded a patent for his work on detonation device deactivation and impairment.
Nov. 7, 2016

Given how commonplace the use of explosive devices has become in fields such as construction, mining, demolition, and more, the need for an effective method to deactivate such devices—particularly in a safe and controlled fashion—becomes clear.

Robert Schill, director of Energy Materials Interaction Technology Initiative of Nevada (EMITION) Center, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and an expert in areas including electromagnetics and plasma physics, has been working on this problem and was awarded a patent on September 20 for his solution to it.

Many of today’s explosive devices are triggered electrically or electronically and can be difficult to transport or manipulate. Schill’s patent, “Diminishing Detonator Effectiveness Through Electromagnetic Effects” (#9,448,042), covers the apparatuses and methods for deactivating or hindering the performance of these sensitive detonation devices, thereby reducing intentional and accidental triggerings of detonators. His solution takes the guesswork out of disabling explosive devices that can employ any number of activation methods, such as movement or timing, by attacking the heart of the problem—the detonator element itself—and reducing its functionality.   

“When we talk about explosives, we’re talking about potentially life-or-death situations,” said Zach Miles, UNLV’s associate vice president of economic development. “Explosives safety is mission critical, and Schill’s patented work is a compelling addition to UNLV’s portfolio.”