What we do at our Test Site for Technical Safety (TTS)
BAM is a senior scientific and technical Federal institute with responsibility to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. BAM tests, researches and advises to protect people, the environment and material goods. BAM's Headquarters is in Berlin. In addition, BAM has been operating a Test Site for Technical Safety (Testgelände Technische Sicherheit - TTS) on an area measuring 12 km2 in Horstwalde in Brandenburg since the beginning of the 1990s.
If laboratory tests or model calculations are not sufficient to quantify the risks of hazardous substances, large-scale tests need to be carried out on a scale of 1:1. True-to-scale experiments are also necessary if, for example, the BAM carries out work in its capacity as a senior federal authority in the field of hazardous substances legislation and explosives law.
Some examples of our work at the TTS:
Securing cash machines against gas attacks
They mostly come at night, pump gas into cash machines and blast them open to steal the money. The damage caused by these criminals is significant.
BAM is testing whether cash machines can cope with explosions and whether the built-in protective systems are sufficient. To this end BAM is conducting test explosions on their Test Site, using different types of cash machines and security systems. Gas combinations used by the perpetrators are also employed in the tests. The data from the tests is used to increase resistance to explosions and to prevent the opening of valuables containers by criminals.
Safe bridges - well monitored
The dilapidated state of many bridges in Germany regularly hits the headlines. Most of Germany's approximately 39,000 motorway bridges were built between the 1960s and 1980s out of reinforced concrete. Today traffic levels are nearly twice as high. This means that the loads placed on these materials have increased significantly. In addition, road salt and the weather are particularly hard on the concrete.
Bridges are an important element of the road network and are therefore very significant for researching the safety of structures. How do different forces and oscillations affect the individual parts of a bridge? At what speed do cracks in the concrete wall increase? The answers to these questions help determine the need for repair and forecast aging processes. This in turn helps to prevent future damage and reduce repair costs.
At the Test Side BAM has build a model bridge to investigate different methods of nondestructive testing - like ultrasonic waves or fibre optic sensors. BAM’s scientists are not only simply exploring these and other measurement methods. They also want to develop computer models that enable reliable predictions for the future.
By the way: Horstwalde is not the only place where BAM’s sensors are being used. In Berlin, BAM’s technology has been used for over 20 years to metrologically monitor one of the busiest motorway bridges in Germany on the A100.
Testing the resilience of storage containers & tanks for dangerous goods
About 300 million tonnes of dangerous goods are transported through Germany every year, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Almost half of them are travelling by lorries. BAM’s research plays an important role in the safety of these transports. In an international project, BAM scientists are investigating the impacts on dangerous goods tanks in accidents. For this purpose they developed a test rig that is universally unique that allows them to understand what happens within the containers in such an accident and make them even safer.
BAM also examines and checks the safety-related suitability of containers for the final storage of radioactive waste. To do this BAM experts let the containers fall from heights of up to 5 metres from the drop tower at the Test Site. High-speed cameras and other measuring devices on the ground record the fall and moment of impact of the items being drop-tested. This allows the BAM experts to know precisely which stresses are caused and what sort of damage these might do to the container. But they are not only examining mechanical influences on the containers, however. They are also analysing possible effects of fires and explosions plus corrosion with regards to the safety of containers.
Investigating accident scenarios involving gas tanks vehicles
In view of decreasing oil reserves and aiming to achieve energy and climate protection objectives, Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) is gaining importance as an environmentally friendly fuel, especially for heavy commercial vehicles. However, the increased use of LNG in road traffic is associated with yet unknown risks. That is why BAM analyses the impacts on personal and structural safety and dangerous goods transport in tunnels. To do so the scientists have built a pilot-plant tunnel test facility at the Test Site. The tunnel enables investigations into various scenarios of substance spread for deep cold gases such as LNG at specified conditions and extensive research into the potential consequences such as a fire or explosion. The aim from the research results is to derive recommendations for action on LNG, which can then be incorporated into international regulations. For example, new safety distances for LNG vehicles may be specified in order to increase safety.
BAM also investigates such accident scenarios to develop safety recommendations. For example, there is no practical tool with which fire brigades can reliably measure the escaping gas from a safe distance yet. So a mobile flight platform (UAV) is being tested for use in certain accident scenarios. This includes detecting methane from a safe distance for example. The results should provide, among other things, a basis for action-aids for fire fighters and other emergency personnel in the case of accidents or incidents. The results can also be adapted into safety distances for emergency personnel and passers-by.
Test scenarios for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)
BAM is also performing research on fundamental UAS-based measurement methods in terms of qualification, characterisation and validation. The focus here is on robotics, gas sensor technology, system integration and data analysis. The TTS offers excellent testing possibilities for this purpose, such as the test site for distributed gas sensor technology: a gas injection system near to the surface simulates gas emissions from the ground, as may occur in landfills and underground gas storage systems. Another scenario enables UAS installations for the detection and determination of gas leaks in pipelines and pressure vessels to be investigated. UAS-based measurement methods for optical building inspection on real test specimens with defined damage (e.g. cracks) can also be characterised and validated.
Testing fireworks, airbags and other pyrotechnic items
BAM is a notified body within the EU that is safety testing pyrotechnic items in accordance with the provisions of the current Directive 2013/29/EU before they can be brought to market. As a rule, tests are carried out based on (harmonised) standards which specify product-specific criteria. To pass the test, products must fulfill design-relevant and functional requirements.
Notice about conditions of use for photographs and graphics
The Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) grants the users a non-exclusive, non-transferable license, unlimited in time and place, for the use of photographs and graphics offered by BAM. All rights to the photographs and graphics, including all copyrights and other commercial property rights relating to the photographs and graphics, remain with BAM. A license for use which exceeds the granted usage permit (PDF, German version only) must be requested directly from BAM for individual cases