San Francisco, CA

Vanadium Technology Program, Blast-Resistant Walls


Over ten years, SGH researched innovative uses of High Strength Low Alloy Vanadium (HSLA-V) steels in a variety of structural applications under the Vanadium Technology Program, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. ARL in conjunction with VPRA. SGH conducted an initial feasibility study to investigate the potential use of these steels in four applications, including reinforcement in minipiles, high-strength open-web steel joists and joist girders, progressive collapse protection for midrise buildings, and blast-resistant, cold-formed steel wall systems. Following initial studies, we helped further concepts for both the steel joist and blast-resistant wall systems.

Our investigations of the blast-resistant, cold-formed steel wall included:

  • High-fidelity modeling and dynamic nonlinear analysis of wall response
  • Blast simulator testing at the University of California San Diego
  • Static load-tree testing at the Tyndall Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Field testing at the Tyndall blast range
  • Development of comprehensive design criteria and tool
  • Submission to the U.S. Army Engineer Research & Development Center (ERDC) for system approval in Department of Defense applications

Since 2001, the U.S. Government required blast-resistant construction for most new government buildings. Depending on building occupancy, exterior envelopes must resist blast impulses from vehicle-borne weapons. ERDC excluded cold-formed steel walls for this application due to their limited resistance to blast impulses. SGH developed an innovative composite wall system using Vanadium alloy steel studs and sheathing consisting of meshed cement board adhered to a steel sheet. The sheathing, which increases the studs’ buckling capacity, together with enhanced detailing of the stud and wall connections, allow the wall to resist very large blast impulses. SGH has successfully implemented this economical, blast-resistant system at U.S. Immigration and Customs Stations and for a Veterans Administration Hospital.

Project Summary



Completion Date
Repair & Rehabilitation
Advanced Analysis | Performance & Code Consulting | Applied Science & Research
Science & Defense
SCRA Applied R&D | U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) | Vanadium Producers & Reclaimers Association (VPRA)
Specialized Capabilities
Computational Mechanics | Risk & Resilience Assessment | Physical Testing

Key team members

Ronald Hamburger
Ronald Hamburger
Consulting Principal