Blast simulators facilitate the creation of shock waves and measurement of pressure morphology in a controlled laboratory setting and are currently a vital model for replicating blast-induced neurotrauma. Due to the maintenance and operation cost of conventional blast simulators, we developed a pneumatic, table-top, gas-driven shock tube to test an alternative method of shock wave generation using a membrane-less driver section. Its unique operational mechanism based on air gun technology does not rely on a plastic membrane rupture for the generation of pressure pulses, allowing the simulator to be quickly reset and thus decreasing the experimental turnaround time. The focus of this study is to demonstrate that this proof-of-concept device can generate shock waves with diverse characteristics based on the selection of driver gas, driver pressurization, and driven section material. Pressure waves were generated using compressed nitrogen or helium at 15 psig and 80 psig and were analyzed based on their velocity and profile shape characteristics. At 15 psig, independent of the type of driver gas, driver pressurization, and driven section material, pressure pulses travelled at sonic velocities. At 80 psig, generation of shock waves was observed in all conditions. The choice of the driver gas affected the velocities of the resulting pressure waves and the shape of pressure waveforms, particularly the peak overpressure and rise time values. Our results demonstrate that depending on the selection of driver gas and magnitude of driver pressurization, the shock wave signatures can be controlled and altered using a piston-based driver section.
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