Flexible structural adhesive prevents glass shattering at Heathrow Terminal 5

See Advanced Adhesives at MachineBuilding.Live, 4 October 2023, on stand 30

Glass is one of the most striking features of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, but also a potential vulnerability. In the event of a terror attack shattering the glass, a high percentage of injuries in an explosion or bomb blast are caused by flying glass fragments rather than any incendiary device itself. Ensuring that can’t happen is a bonding solution from Advanced Adhesives.

Opened in 2008 and with a capacity to handle over 30 million passengers a year, Heathrow Terminal 5 was designed by Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners. As a design feature, it makes extensive use of glass, not just as a fascia for the building itself but also within the terminal. Numerous internal panels are structures all formed from glass, as well as shop windows and dividers, contributing to the bright, airy and modern feel of the building.

A key consideration for the architects, though, was ensuring that all of this glass would be resistant to terror attack, with a terror attack on a major airport thought to be a question not of if, but of when. “If it happened at Terminal 5, it wouldn’t be the bomb blast that did the real harm; it would be the flying glass fragments that would cause a high percentage of injuries,” explains Advanced Adhesives managing director Graham Crozier.

To ensure this couldn’t happen, Advanced Adhesives was one of a number of companies asked to provide a bonding solution that would hold the glass, aluminium and/or Corian sheets together so that it wouldn’t shatter and spread glass shards throughout the area if there was an explosion. “All of the panels needed a high degree of internal flexibility, which meant a bonding solution with an adhesive with a high tensile elongation,” says Crozier. “So to bond the glass to the varying substrates, we supplied our 8062 adhesive for test, which offers up to 110% tensile elongation.”

Resisting impact loads

The 8062 adhesive has a high degree of ‘inbuilt’ tensile elongation which is generally utilised in the adhesive to resist impact loads, to cope with the expansion and contraction of dissimilar materials as they heat up and cool down in operation, or to handle the climate the bonded components are operating in. This tensile elongation is also used to resist the stresses applied to a bonded assembly in operation where movement or flexibility in the components can be experienced in some applications. However, in Heathrow Terminal 5 application, the adhesive’s tensile elongation – its internal flexibility – could enable the energy from the explosion to be absorbed, holding any broken glass in place, essentially utilising the impact resistance effect the adhesive has.

The tests were carried out at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria, where a bomb was exploded behind the bonded panel, measuring 1.2m by 2m. “It goes without saying that we’ve never had an application like this one, and honestly we had no idea what would happen,” says Crozier. “The bomb exploded, the panel flexed, but it didn’t shatter and spread fragments of glass. We were shocked and excited – ours was the only adhesive that passed the test.”

The result meant that by using 8062 adhesive, the architects could specify standard glass for the project rather than blast resistant glass, at a massive cost saving. “The glass fronting on a shop, for example, could cost upwards of £50,000 if you had to use blast resistant glass,” says Crozier. “Being able to use a more standard glass product was a huge saving.

“Customers come to us precisely because they need a solution to something that can seem almost impossible,” he concludes. “But we are adhesive experts, and we’ve yet to find a bonding challenge where we couldn’t formulate an appropriate solution.”

Advanced Adhesives Ltd

Architectural House
Plummer Street

+44 (0)191 272 2982



More news
3 days ago
RS wins ‘Best Company for Sustainability Reporting’ in the industrial sector
RS Group has won the award for ‘Best Company for Sustainability Reporting’ in the industrial sector at the Corporate ESG Awards 2023.
1 week ago
Southco launches a new wireless access system with the Keypaniontm app
Southco has launched a new wireless access system featuring the Keypanion app, a revolutionary smart access app that lets users wirelessly actuate latches from their smartphones.
2 weeks ago
Food Manufacturing Live – May 1st 2024 – National Motorcycle Museum
Specialist engineering publisher and exhibition organiser The Engineering Network (TEN) has just announced an all-new event for suppliers of engineering solutions to the food and drink manufacturing sector, Food Manufacturing Live.
3 weeks ago
Essentra’s Kidlington site switches to 100% recyclable packaging
Essentra Components has completed the switch within its UK manufacturing and distribution centre in Kidlington to using paper-based packaging. The new packaging contains recycled content and is widely recyclable after use, supporting both its own and its customers’ ambitions for a more sustainable future.
3 weeks ago
Intertronics launches adhesive and dispensing technology seminars
In a bid to help grow the adhesives, dispensing, and curing technology knowledge base of British manufacturing companies, Intertonics is offering seminars for customers under the adhere academy brand.
3 weeks ago
Coloured super glue enables automated QA in optical component assembly
A manufacturer of optical components was faced with an assembly challenge, needing an adhesive not only that could be applied around the complete diameter of the part, but one which also contained a pigment such that the application of the adhesive could be checked by camera before the next stage of the process. For a solution, the company turned to Advanced Adhesives.
1 month ago
Intertronics becomes UK distributor of Scigrip adhesives
Adhesives supplier Intertronics has partnered with Scigrip to distribute its methyl methacrylate structural adhesives (MMAs) in the UK.
1 month ago
SD Products now official UK distributor for King Slide
SD Products has announced an exciting new partnership with King Slide, Taiwan’s leading furniture hardware manufacturer. With over 30 years of experience in their industry sector King Slide has earned a strong reputation and trust among leading tech companies as well as high-end home furniture and appliance brands.
1 month ago
RS celebrates Formula Student team successes at milestone event
RS is celebrating the award-winning success of three of the teams it supported at the recent UK Formula Student 25-year milestone event. Sixty-one teams subjected their single-seat race car prototypes to rigorous testing at Silverstone race track in Northamptonshire, in the annual challenge organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
1 month ago
Rolec enclosures get special mention in German Innovation Awards
Rolec’s aluDOOR industrial electronic enclosures have gained a Special Mention in the German Innovation Awards. Judges praised the “high added value for users”.

Login / Sign up