Characterization of Residues from the Detonation of Insensitive Munitions

Dr. Sonia Thiboutot | Defence R & D Canada

ER-2219

Objective

ER-2219 Graphic

Army EOD specialists inspecting the yellow discolored ice surface following the detonation of an IMX-101 155-mm practice round.

Live-fire training is a critical component in the training regimen of militaries. Training with munitions will involve the use of energetic materials.  Unfortunately, many energetic compounds are toxic or harmful to the environment and human health. The U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory and Defence Research and Development Canada–Valcartier have developed methods through SERDP and ESTCP that enable the reproducible estimation of energetic residues mass deposition for many commonly used weapon systems. 

The overarching objectives for this project were to provide the insensitive munitions (IM) and range sustainability research community with reproducible data that can be used in determining the detonation efficiency of various munitions containing insensitive high explosive (IHE) and to generate an empirical database that can be used in predicting contaminant loading of training ranges.

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Technical Approach

ER-2219 Graphic (2)

Filtering melted snow samples containing IMX-104 residues following a high-order detonation. The yellow coloration of the filtrate is unreacted IMX-104.

Multi-increment sampling on snow has proven to be the most reproducible method for energetics residues characterization research. This project focused on three areas: (1) determining mass deposition and dissolution of insensitive high-explosive compounds from the detonation of insensitive munitions being integrated into US stockpiles, (2) development of analytical methods for insensitive high explosive formulations, and (3) assessing the robustness of the current life cycle environmental assessment process (LCEA) for munitions with respect to the use of these munitions. Four insensitive high-explosive formulations were tested: PAX-21, PAX-48, IMX-101, and IMX-104 (Picatinny Arsenal Explosive [PAX] and Insensitive Munitions explosive [IMX]). 

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Results

The PAX-21 research indicated significant deposition of ammonium perchlorate, and the use of these munitions is now restricted. Detonation of IMX-101 and IMX-104 rounds resulted in high residues deposition of 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one (NTO) and nitroguanadine (NQ), both highly soluble compounds. Very high deposition rates of NTO and NQ from the IMX-101 practice rounds has led to a re-evaluation of the explosive load for these rounds. Combustion products, used in the LCEA process to determine the impact of training with munitions, were compared to deposition mass for Composition 4 (C4) blocks, with a finding that combustion products, when measured, account for only about 7% of the energetics residues from a detonation. In Canada, various configurations of C4 as well as shaped charge donor charges were tested to efficiently blow in place a PAX-48 filled IM 120-mm tank round. The objective was to identify a set-up that would lead to an acceptable deposition rate. Also, the deposition rates of two IM formulations were conducted, as a comparison with the NTO/2,4-dinitroanisole family IM formulations.

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Benefits

This research has had critical, far-reaching effects on the insensitive munitions community. Insensitive munitions were constructed to resist external stimuli such as bullet impact or fire, and because of that, they resist unintentional detonation. This insensitivity has resulted in a less-efficient detonation, differential performance among the formulation components, and increased residues caused by disposal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) by a blow in place (BIP) procedure. Researchers have found through this research that the more insensitive the munitions are, the less efficient they become and the more they deposit residues. In the case where IM constituents are toxic, the live firing of IM rounds into the range and training areas will represent an environmental risk and, upon reaching potential receptors, a human health risk.

Researchers strongly believe in the benefit of developing and issuing insensitive munitions. However, it is critical that all stakeholders be closely involved, as IM represent challenges both in terms of higher energetic constituent deposition rates and the difficulty in performing efficient BIP disposal operations. The importance of obtaining reproducible estimates of energetic constituent’s deposition rates following all detonation scenarios for future munitions has been clearly demonstrated within this project. In the U.S., awareness of the potential contamination from munitions on training ranges and the necessity for testing rounds in the field prior to certification is becoming evident to ordnance developers. In Canada, plans are to include deposition rate testing as a critical component of the environmental assessment conducted prior acquisition. 

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Publications

Government Reports

  1. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Science and Technology Organization (STO). 2015. Munitions Related Contamination. NATO/STO Specialists Meeting AVT-244, M.R. Walsh and Ø.A. Voie, Chairs, Prague, Czech Republic, 12–14 October 2015. STO Meeting Proceedings STO-MP-AVT-244 (Limited distribution).
  2. Walsh M.R., M.E. Walsh, C.A. Ramsey, S. Taylor, S. Thiboutot, G. Ampleman, and J. Dowden. 2015. Energetics residues from the detonations of IMX-101 and IMX-104 munitions. Hanover, NH: U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.  ERDC/CRREL TR-15-3 Report (Limited distribution).
  3. Walsh, M.R. 2013. Field Detonation Testing of 60- and 81-mm Mortar Bodies containing IMX-104.  Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) Test Report to U.S. Army Armaments Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), Picatinny Arsenal, NJ.
  4. Jenkins, T.F., S.R. Bigl, A.D. Hewitt, J.L. Clausen, H.D. Craig, M.E. Walsh. R. Martel, K. Nieman, S. Taylor, and M.R. Walsh. 2012. EPA Federal Facilities Forum Issue Paper: Site Characterization for Munitions Constituents. Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (5203P). EPA-505-S-11-001. 

Journal Articles

  1. Walsh, M.E. 2016. Analytical Methods for Detonation Residues of Insensitive Munitions. J. Energ. Mater.,34(01):76–91.
  2. Taylor, S., K. Dontsova, M.E. Walsh, and M.R. Walsh. 2015. Outdoor Dissolution of Detonation Residues of Three Insensitive Munitions Formulations. Chemosphere, 134(2015):250–256.
  3. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, and C.A. Ramsey. 2014. On the Importance of Environmental Testing of Munitions. Proceedings of the JANNAF Workshop on Insensitive Munitions, 2014:12–22.
  4. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, and Ø.A. Voie. 2014. Presence and Persistence of White Phosphorus on Military Training Ranges. Propell., Explos., Pyrot.,39(6):922–931.
  5. Walsh, M.E., M.R. Walsh, C.M. Collins, and C.H. Racine. 2014. White Phosphorus Contamination of an Active Army Training Range. Water, Air, Soil Pollut., 225:2001.
  6. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, K. Gagnon, A.D. Hewitt, and T.F. Jenkins. 2014. Subsampling of Soils Containing Energetic Residues. Soil Sediment Contam., 23(4):452–463.
  7. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, C.A. Ramsey, S. Thiboutot, G. Ampleman, E. Diaz, and J.E. Zufelt. 2014. Energetic Residues from Detonation of IMX-104 Insensitive Munitions. Propell., Explos., Pyrot.,39(2):243–250.
  8. Taylor, S., D.B. Ringelberg, K. Dontsova, C. Daghlian, M.E. Walsh, and M.R. Walsh. 2013. Insights into the Dissolution and the Three-dimensional Structure of Insensitive Munitions Formulations. Chemosphere, 93(9):1782–1788.
  9. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, C.A. Ramsey, S. Brochu, S. Thiboutot, and G. Ampleman. 2013. Perchlorate Contamination from the Detonation of Insensitive High-explosive Rounds. J. Hazard. Mater., 262(2013):228–233.
  10. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, S. Taylor, C.A. Ramsey, D.B. Ringelberg, J.E. Zufelt, S. Thiboutot, G. Ampleman, and E. Diaz. 2013. Characterization of PAX-21 Insensitive Munitions Detonation Residues. Propell., Explos., Pyrot., 38(3):399–409.
  11. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, G. Ampleman, S. Thiboutot, S. Brochu, and T.F. Jenkins. 2012. Munitions Propellants Residue Deposition Rates on Military Training Ranges. Propell., Explos., Pyrot., 37(4):393–406.
  12. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, and C.A. Ramsey. 2012. Measuring Energetic Contamination Deposition Rates on Snow. Water, Air, Soil Pollut., 223(7):3689–3699.

Published Conference and Symposia Proceedings (Refereed, *Presenter)

  1. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, C.A. Ramsey, S. Thiboutot, and G. Ampleman. 2015. Energetics Residues Deposition from Training with Large Caliber Weapon Systems. 2nd European Conference of Defence and the Environment, Helsinki, Finland, 9–10 June.
  2. Walsh, M.E., M.R. Walsh*, C.A. Ramsey, S. Thiboutot, and G. Ampleman. 2015. Collection, Processing, and Analytical Methods for the Measurement of Post-Detonation Residues from Large Caliber Ammunition. 2nd European Conference of Defence and the Environment, Helsinki, Finland, 9–10 June.
  3. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, S. Thiboutot, and G. Ampleman. 2013. On the importance of environmental testing of munitions. 2nd Symposium on Human and Environmental Toxicology of Munitions Related Compounds, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 17­–19 September.
  4. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, C.A. Ramsey, S. Thiboutot, and G. Ampleman. 2013. Testing Ordnance Detonation Residues for Toxic Substances. NATO AVT-197 Research and Technical Group Working Meeting, Karlstad, Sweden.
  5. Walsh, M.R.*, M.E. Walsh, C.A. Ramsey, S. Thiboutot, and G. Ampleman. 2013. Quantifying Energetics Contamination for Live-fire Training on Military Ranges. 1st European Conference on Defence and the Environment, Helsinki, Finland, May.
  6. Walsh, M.E.*, M.R. Walsh, and C.A. Ramsey. 2013. Minimizing Errors Associated with Laboratory Analysis of Soil Samples Collected for Determination of Explosives and Propellant Residues. 1st European Conference on Defence and the Environment, Helsinki, Finland, May.
  7. Ampleman, G.*, S. Thiboutot, E. Diaz, S. Brochu, R. Martel, and M.R. Walsh. 2013. New Range Design and Mitigation Methods for Sustainable Training. 1st European Conference on Defence and the Environment, Helsinki, Finland, May.
  8. Thiboutot, S.*, G. Ampleman, S. Brochu, E. Diaz, R. Martel, J. Hawari, G. Sunahara, M.R. Walsh, and M.E. Walsh. 2013. Canadian Programme on the Environmental Impacts of Munition. 1st European Conference on Defence and the Environment, Helsinki, Finland, May.
  9. Walsh, M.R., M.E. Walsh, I. Poulin, S. Taylor, and T.A. Douglas. 2012. Energetic Residues from the Detonation of Common U.S. Ordnance. 9th International Symposium on Special Topics in Chemical Propulsion (9-ISICP), Québec City, Canada, 9–13 July.
  10. Walsh, M.E. and M.R. Walsh. 2012. Accumulation of Propellant Residues in Surface Soils of Military Training Range Firing Points. 9th International Symposium on Special Topics in Chemical Propulsion (9-ISICP), Québec City, Canada, 9–13 July.

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Sonia Thiboutot

Defence R&D Canada - Valcartier (DRDC)

Phone: 418-844-4000

Principal Investigator

Mr. Michael Walsh P.E.

USA CRREL

Phone: 603-646-4363

Fax: 603-646-4720

Program Manager

Environmental Restoration

SERDP and ESTCP

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