Raytheon unveils device to blast through concrete
Waltham defense contractor Raytheon Co. has unveiled the prototype of a portable device that firefighters and search teams can use to quickly pulverize concrete walls as they look to rescue people trapped in rubble by disasters.
During a recent demonstration, the device smashed through a concrete barrier in 13 minutes, compared with the 29 minutes it took for conventional methods to achieve similar results, Raytheon said.
Raytheon's 100-pound device is called the Controlled Impact Rescue Tool, or CIRT, and its rapid-breaching technology can be operated by two people.
Conventional methods to breach concrete often involve power-saws, drills, and small jack-hammers, which in many cases are powered by electricity, a Raytheon spokesman said. That means rescuers have to drag electrical cords behind them.
With CIRT, operators carry blank ammunition cartridges that when fired, cause a specially designed impact head to generate pulverizing shock waves to create a hole large enough for a victim to escape from, a Raytheon spokesman said.
Not only is CIRT faster and more flexible than conventional methods for breaching concrete, it also takes less of a physical toll on its operators, the spokesman said.
The device was developed under a program of the Department of Homeland Security. Much of the work for the program was done at a Raytheon facility in Virginia.
The company has not yet determined a price tag for the device, a Raytheon spokesman said.
Potential customers for CIRT include fire departments, local and federal rescue agencies, and the military services.
(By Chris Reidy, Globe staff)