As an inventor at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL), research civil engineer Justin Roberts has received seven patents, five of which are additions and improvements of the Hardened Alternative Trailer System (HATS) and Methods of Producing Same. His latest invention, “Blast, Ballistic and Forced Entry Resistant Shelter,” received a patent in April of this year to meet the need for larger structures. A companion patent for HATS units with two end walls but no side walls, this latest configuration is designed to allow the structure to expand and provide additional space that is unobstructed by support columns.
Roberts and his teams developed these technologies in direct support of the Department of State (DOS) mission to provide increased safety measures for American citizens abroad. These buildings provide a high level of protection (LOP) against blast, ballistic and forced entry from hostile entities, without exceeding stringent International Organization for Standardization (ISO) weight and dimensional specifications.
The invention team included John M. Hoemann, GSL research civil engineer; and Craig Ackerman, program manager for the Physical Security Division, Department of Special Project Initiatives (SPI), whose department uses the shelters for personnel protection in high-threat locations.
Department of State asset attracting interest
“The HATS became a go-to structural solution for DOS. The ease of logistics, installation and the high levels of protection offered for the price not only fulfilled their requirement for high threat locations, but exceeded their expectations,” Roberts said.
Other federal agencies are now noting the success of the HATS technology.
“We recently signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Kontek Industries, Inc. for an investigation into the application of HATS Technology. This CRADA is intended to adapt and market the HATS technology, including the Anti-Ballistic Shelter System, for use outside of the DOS. Kontek is proposing the HATS technology as a solution for temporary structure requirements at various nuclear reactor sites for the Department of Energy (DOE).”
As noted in the patent application, there are presently more than 400 structures using the HATS technology in the field. At a cost of several hundred thousand dollars per structure, this technology represents an investment in the range of $100,000,000 to the U.S. government.
Despite the commercial success of the current technology, there was an unmet need for a system which complies with the requirements of ISO Standard for larger than 40-foot structures.
Invention development and uses
“There was an increasing need to provide a structure with the LOPs offered by HATS, but with more space. The need for additional space is the reason for the development of this invention. This invention is one of the building blocks of the HATS system that allows the user to expand their structure to meet space requirements while maintaining the LOP they need,” Roberts said.
He shared that the invention was created at ERDC with the first prototype fabricated in the GSL Structural Mechanics Branch by the ERDC’s Directorate of Public Works welders.
“It was hauled on a tractor trailer to Ft. Polk, Louisiana, where it underwent several rounds of testing. Upon conclusion of testing, the invention was moved to control area of the range and now serves as the command-and-control facility at the ERDC Test Facility at Ft. Polk, Roberts said.
“With our latest invention, material thicknesses were increased driving the weight up. Cranes and other heavy equipment are required to handle and place these units. As a joint development, the DOS uses this invention at US embassies and consulates at high threat locations around the world to protect diplomats and other state department personnel,” Roberts said.
“Other government agencies such as the Department of Energy could use these units to meet blast requirements for protection against accidental explosions at nuclear power plants. From a military perspective, this invention could be installed at more established military bases for use as safe havens in the event of an attack, “ Roberts shared.
The Office of Research and Technology Transfer, which processes patents for ERDC, will honor Roberts and his team this year with a plaque presentation ceremony.
For additional technical information, visit: https://patents.justia.com/patent/11629519