History and background:
The simple idea of an e-bomb is to destroy electrical circuits using strong electromagnetic fields. An e-bomb is a weaponry shell that sends out an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) of enormous power, capable of permanently disabling electronic systems. An electromagnetic bomb is a weapon instead of simply cutting off power in an area; an e-bomb would actually destroy most machines that use electricity. Generators would be hopeless as well as making a phone call and cars wouldn’t run. In a matter of seconds, an e-bomb could take an entire city back 200 years.
Compton, A. H. was the first one to put the theory used in electromagnetic bombs forward in 1925 for the study of atoms. The development of electromagnetic bombs was based on his findings. By the beginning of the 21st century, the United States and the United Kingdom scientists started to develop e-bombs. At the same time, some people warned that terrorists might be capable of building their own but much less complicated. Carbon-graphite coils were used to generate an electromagnetic pulse, which are used to build e-bombs. Carbon-graphite equipped rockets were used by the USA forces in the attacks on Iraq in 1991 and in 2003. Recently e-bombs started to be in the headlines, but actually the idea of EMP weapons has been researched and studied for a long time. Between the 60s and 80s, the United States was most concerned with the possibility of a nuclear EMP attack.
Moreover, the idea of EMP nuclear weapons research has been around from the 1950s. American tests of a hydrogen bomb produced some shocking results in 1958. A test over the Pacific Ocean ended up blowing out streetlights hundred miles away in parts of Hawaii. The explosion even disrupted radio equipment in Australia. According to researchers, the Compton effect was the reason behind this electrical disturbance. Compton claimed that photons of electromagnetic energy could knock loose electrons from atoms with low atomic numbers. In the test in 1958, researchers concluded that the photons from the explosion’s intense gamma radiation knocked a large number of electrons free from oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere. This flow of electrons interacted with the earth’s magnetic field to create a changing electric current, which induced a powerful magnetic field and this resulting magnetic field induced intense electrical currents in electrical devices over a wide area.
EMP weapons are designed to overpower electrical circuits with a concentrated electromagnetic field. It is known that electric current generates magnetic fields and changing magnetic fields can induce electric current. Also this magnetic field can induce an electrical current in another conductors such as a radio receiver. If the intensity of the signal of a low intensity radio transmitter increased which is the magnetic field, it would induce a much larger electrical current. A big enough current would burn the semiconductor components in the radio, damaging it beyond repair. This magnetic field will induce a massive current in any other electrical object. For example phone lines and power lines. These magnetic fields will pass this massive current into any other electrical device down the line and a big enough current could burn out semiconductor devices, damage batteries and even explode transformers.
There are a number of possible ways of generating such a magnetic field. A Flux Compressor Generator (FCG) bomb is cheap and easy way of using magnetic waves to cripple a city. An FCG consists of a metal pipe filled with explosive materials. It consists of a coiled wire surrounds the pipe and a layer of air separates the wire and pipe from each other. The coil is connected to a power supply. The entire process is placed in a secure container, which is the outer shell of the bomb.
Fig.1 The structure of an e-bomb
Ref.1 (ArticleWorld, 2011)
Firing an e-bomb consists from three main steps. Firstly, a current is passed through the coil creating a magnetic field. The explosive material is exploded through a fuse. Secondly, the explosion disturbs the electric current flowing through the coil. Finally, this in turn creates an enormous magnetic field. An FCG can result in a significant and permanent damage
Fig.2 Explosively pushed FCG
Ref.2 (ArticleWorld, 2011)
Furthermore, the cost of a non-nuclear e-bomb with a flux compressor generator range between ?400-2000 that means it is in the hand of any terrorist if they know how to build it. However, the cost of a nuclear e-bomb depends on the size of the bomb and the nuclear atoms used in such a bomb. There is no released statistics of any kind about the number of e-bombs around in world or being built because since 1958 there have not been any tests done but the development of such a weapon is under research right now in different countries and there are some bombs are ready to be fired in the UK, the USA and other countries.
E-bombs mainly affect electronic devices. Gigantic heat is produced in these devices due to the build up of heavy currents, resulting in their destruction. E-bombs do not directly affect human beings they only destroy electronic equipment. However, those dependent on electronic equipment may die instantly like certain kinds of patients. The launching of a typical e-bomb using a rocket; begins with the rocket being fired using a long-range rocket launcher. After that the outer shell of the e-bomb is opened directly above the target. Then the shell opens out its transmitter aerials and sends a very powerful electromagnetic pulse lasting only a nanosecond. This electromagnetic pulse will result in destroying anything electronic on the ground within the range of the e-bomb. Some countries are drawn to EMP technology because it is highly destructive. An E-bomb attack would leave buildings standing, but it could destroy a small military. Low-level electromagnetic pulses would temporarily damage electronics systems, more intense pulses would damage important computer data and very powerful explosions would completely damage electric and electronic equipment.
In modern warfare, an e-bomb could effectively neutralize; vehicle control systems, communications systems, navigation systems and sensor systems. EMP weapons could be especially useful in an invasion of countries, because a pulse might effectively neutralize underground shelters. Most of underground shelters are hard to reach with standard bombs. A nuclear e-bomb could effectively demolish many of these shelters. An electromagnetic pulse could go through the ground and strike out the shelter’s lights, ventilation systems, communications even. The shelter would be completely uninhabitable.
Moreover, a widespread EMP attack in any country would compromise a military’s ability to organize itself. Ground troops might have perfectly functioning non-electric weapons, but they wouldn’t have the equipment to plan an attack or locate the enemy. In fact, an EMP attack could moderate any military forces into an unproductive army. EMP weapons are usually considered non-fatal, but they could easily kill people if they were directed towards particular targets. An E-bomb could also neutralize heavy vehicles like aircrafts, which will cause tragic accidents. The most influential effect of an e-bomb could be psychological. An EMP attack in a developed country would immediately bring modern life to an end. There will be a lot of survivors, but they will find themselves in big shock. After the cold war, scientists began to research the use of e-bombs as a technical weapon to produce a complete destruction of an enemy’s electrical power, and communications.
In 2000, UK’s scientists announced the development of an e-bomb that could be fired from a long-range as well as the USA scientists who developed their own version, which was ready for use in the 2003 against Iraq. Military forces slowed down the idea of using it, specifically because of the bomb’s potentials such as affecting hospitals and emergency services. Furthermore, in rebuilding an economy, the damage of infrastructure caused by an e-bomb could create unaffordable costs. However, for a terrorist organization less concerned with morals, an e-bomb could be an attractive tool for creating massive damages at a low cost.
The first EMP weapons are being tested right now, and their development is planned in the very near future. However, in my opinion none of these new weapons will be useful to create a better world to live in. I think if this huge amount of wasted energy were used in developing new machines to be used in digging for renewable sources of energy or to be used in creating new technologies used to treat fatal diseases, this energy will be more useful than building an army with EMP weapons. Finally, in this project I gave a general background about e-bombs and the electromagnetic pulse, what does it do, how does it work, the uses of e-bombs and the history of nuclear and non nuclear e-bombs and EMP weapons. Also I talked about the effects of such a weapon and what damages can it do to armies and people as well as countries. Moreover, I talked about the future and developments of EMP weapons and what advances are being made right now along with the simple process on e-bomb and the costs of such a weapon. Non-nuclear e-bombs could be an alternative weapon to nuclear weapons where nuclear weapons can cause an unrepaired damage to people instead of electronic devices.
Bibliography and reference list:
Kopp, C., 1996. The Electromagnetic Bomb – a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction. Australia, Global Security. Available from: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1996/apjemp.htm [Accessed 8 May 2011]
Wilson, J., 2001. Electromagnetic Bomb for Seminar in Electrical Engineering. Available from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/19101608/Electromagnetic-Bomb-for-Seminar-in-Electrical-Engineering [Accessed 8 May 2011]
Washington Examiner, 2009. Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Weapons. United States, Claremont institute. Available from: http://www.missilethreat.com/archives/id.16/subject_detail.asp [Accessed 8 May 2011]
Anissimov, M., 2011. What is an EMPAvailable from: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-emp.htm [Accessed 8 May 2011]
ArticleWorld, 2011. Electromagnetic bomb. Available from: http://scienceray.com/physics/electromagnetic-bomb/2/ [Accessed 8 May 2011]
Wilson, J., 2011. E-bomb. Available from: http://www.lizmichael.com/ebomb.htm [Accessed 8 May 2011]
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