CLEVELAND - The Sherwin-Williams Co. and three partners announced the development of polyurea-based construction technology designed to provide resistance to the effects of explosions, a technology the company said represents "a potentially important development in defending against terrorism in the U.S. and abroad."

The technology, which Sherwin-Williams said is nearing commercialization, involves the use of pre-fabricated reinforced polyurea panels that elongate and stretch, acting as a safety net to contain blast pressure and flying debris. Potential uses include new construction and retrofitting of existing structures.

The technology was developed by Sherwin-Williams in collaboration with B&H Coatings Inc., Teijin Twaron USA Inc. and TechFab L.L.C.

John Durig, director of Sherwin-Williams' General Polymers business unit, said the technology is designed "to catch the explosive force on the inner side of the structure, and to protect life within against flying debris and collateral damage. We fully expect the technology to be useful for the protection of embassies, military installations, waterworks, nuclear plants - any place that might be subject to a terrorist attack." The Israeli government and Turkish military already have expressed interest, he said.

Durig said the technology is similar to that used in the post-9/11 reconstruction of government buildings. He added, however, that additional benefits are provided by prefabricated reinforced polyurea panels because they require less material, are easier to install and are less expensive to use. "Blast-resistant panels allow the coating - the critical element for blast-resistance - to be shop-applied rather than sprayed-in-place," he said. "The technology also may contribute to preventing progressive collapse."

Durig said spraying polyurea at the construction site results in potential quality-control problems and requires the use of expensive application equipment, specially-trained applicators, ventilation, isolation of the installation areas, respiratory equipment for applicators, and protection of the surrounding areas from overspray. "The use of panels eliminates these issues," he said.

The particular polyurea elastomer used in the panel technology is reported to be characterized by balanced elongation, flexibility and tensile strength properties, allowing the coating to expand and stretch like a balloon that will not break, even when subjected to high levels of blast pressure and flying debris. Sherwin-Williams' General Polymers business unit, based in Cincinnati, supplies the polyurea coating used in the panels.