How Demolition Explosives Are Rigged For Implosions

When it comes to planned structural implosions, in addition to safety, reducing the amount of noise and debris is key. In this piece, we’re going to look at how demolition experts aim to flatten a building on its own footprint in a way that is safe while minimizing sound and physical pollution.

  • Early in the process, demolition explosives experts that are known as “blasters” will carefully examine the site. Key structural supports and load-bearing walls are identified.
  • In order to make the implosion process more streamlined with fewer variables, demolition professionals will begin manually demolishing non-load-bearing walls. Removing superficial walls helps simplify the implosion process as the building collapses as well as better identify support columns for explosive placement.
  • Following superficial deconstruction, blasters can begin to attach explosives to the load-bearing columns of the structure. Depending on the material and quality of the supports, the blasters will determine which type of explosive is best. Typically for concrete supports and columns, dynamite is typically used — either attached to the exterior or inserted within bored holes. Not to confused with Hollywood’s idea of dynamite, demolition-grade dynamite is simply a tightly packed material that is coated or soaked in a highly explosive substance. The quick combustion of the material releases hot gases upon ignition resulting in a powerful explosion — as much as 600 tons per square inch.
  • Due to its dense construction, construction-grade steel can be trickier to demolish. Order to produce an explosion strong enough to destroy steel, demolition blasters typically use a unique explosive material known as cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine, otherwise known as RDX. This style of explosive has more of cutting nature to its explosion than a dislodging nature — especially handy for demolishing steel. At times, completely destroying a structural support beam is not necessary, but rather only damaging the support so that falling happens in a specific direction, much like strategically felling a tree with an ax.
  • Prior to the detonation of some concrete or steel supports, certain areas may be wrapped in fencing or netting to limit possible flying debris.
  • When blasters are ready to detonate either the RDX or dynamite explosives, a blasting cap is utilized. Because many demolition-grade explosives aren’t as sensitive to detonation as one would think, an additional smaller explosion is necessary — where the blasting cap, also known as a primer charge, is used. The blasting cap or primer charger is what ultimately detonates the primary charge — the main explosives.
  • In order for demolition professionals to detonate explosives from a safe distance, blasting caps and primer charges are detonated from an electrical detonation device via a lead line. Acting as an electrical fuse, the electronic detonator sends a charge down the leadline, detonating the blasting cap which then ignites the primary charge explosives.
  • Once all of the superficial walls have been leveled, the explosives are installed and leadlines are ready, there is the last check for any inhabitants on the site. Believe it or not, despite fences and warnings, some thrill seekers may sneak in for a closer look at their own peril.
  • The site has been cleared, explosives in place, and all there is left to do is to detonate the blasting caps. Once this is done, most buildings implode onto their own footprint in seconds. What may have taken months or even years to build is suddenly reduced to a pile of rubble.

Thanks for stopping by the learn more about the implosion process of a majority of buildings and other large structures. If you need help demolishing any structure in a safe, ecologically conscious and cost-effective way, your friends at DT Specialized Services can help.