South East Wales

Cardiff firm BCB uses water cooler bottles in cannon

The humble office water cooler bottle is being deployed in the latest military hardware to deal with hostage situations and terrorist threats.

Cardiff-based BCB International has developed the Wall Breaker, a bizarre cannon that fires the water bottles into buildings at high speed.

The firm is already exporting it to military and security forces worldwide.

Business Minister Edwina Hart is touring the company later, marking its 25% rise in sales this year.

The pneumatic device, which can be used in hostage rescues, fires water-cooler bottles at 300m (984ft) a second to break into buildings.

BCB, which specialises in lifesaving and military equipment, employs 50 staff in Cardiff.

Jonathan Delf who runs the company's marine projects, explained that the Wall Breaker has advantages over traditional methods of gaining entry to buildings and structures.

'Shatters'

"Security teams, counter-terrorism officers might use explosives. If you're trying to rescue a hostage, that's pretty dangerous because the explosion and the debris can cause damage," said Mr Delf.

"Our system uses compressed air and it fires a charge, a big barrel of water - and that impact can smash through a double layer breeze-block wall".

In testing, the company used ordinary plastic water-cooler bottles full of water, each weighing 22Kg (48.5lb).

"What's great about using water is that the casing shatters and it just sprays out. It means security teams are much closer to the point of entry, giving them vital seconds," Mr Delf added.

The company says it has sold the system to security forces and the military in a number of countries including the USA and Thailand.

During her visit, Ms Hart will also be shown other products including a tiny drone - or flying eye-in-the-sky - which can be used for surveillance and an environmentally friendly outdoor cooking gel.

Image caption BCB International's gadgets include a tiny 'drone' fitted with a camera for surveillance

BCB International won the Wales Innovation Award in 2010.

"We supply lifesaving, protective and survival equipment for the military, mariners and outdoor enthusiasts," said company spokesman Philippe Minchin.

"If they are stuck up a mountain, in a desert or out at sea they can use our products to get them through emergency situations," he said.

Mr Minchin said they were proud of the company's track record of innovation to drive further growth.

"It puts paid to doom merchants who claim that the Welsh manufacturing base is unable to produce new ideas and products which can be exported throughout the world," he added.

BCB International previously developed boxer shorts with a ballistic Kevlar lining that were designed to protect soldiers from the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

The so-called "blast pants" were designed to reduce the risk of groin injury from high speed debris.

It exports to 96 countries worldwide and has opened offices in the USA and India.

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