The objective of this project is to demonstrate that DBX-1, a “green” energetic compound, will serve as a drop-in replacement for the widely used primary explosive lead azide in a variety of applications, including a stab detonator, a percussion primed detonator, and a cord initiated detonator. The success of these test series will be determined by the specification for that particular item and by direct comparison of detonator performance against lead azide loaded units. Dermal sensitivity testing will be conducted to assess the toxicity of DBX-1. A fate and transport study will also be carried out pending the results of a waste stream analysis of the DBX-1 synthesis process.

Technology Description

Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company (PSEMC) has been involved in extensive research and development efforts to support a Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NSWC IHEODTD) program to eliminate toxic substances in Navy and Air Force Cartridge Actuated Devices and Propellant Actuated Devices (CAD/PAD). This program has resulted in the novel compound: Copper(I) 5-nitrotetrazole (DBX-1). Preliminary testing of this material has confirmed that DBX-1 has chemical and safety properties that are similar to RD-1333 lead azide and has output characteristics that are equal to or greater than RD-1333. A NAVSEA 8020.5C qualification program was recently successfully completed, and DBX-1 has been identified by the Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity (NOSSA) as safe and suitable for service use and qualified for weapons development. The testing associated with this program indicated that DBX-1 is a viable alternative to lead azide. The manufacturing process for DBX-1 has been scaled up to 100-gram batch sizes to support transitions to CAD/PAD applications and various weapon systems.


The primary benefits of implementing DBX-1 as an alternative to lead azide will be environmental security, cost avoidance, and cost savings. Environmental health and safety regulations on lead containing materials are quite extensive and are likely to increase in severity in the future, along with compliance costs. Surveillance test efforts and other test range impacts should be lessened from a switch to lead free components, and the health hazards associated with manufacture and use of lead azide will be eliminated. Similarly, demilitarization and disposal costs savings should be realized. Establishing DBX-1 under a U.S. manufacturing capability will avoid the delays and costs associated with projected obsolescence of lead azide. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2019)

  • Manufacturing,

  • Lead Azide,

  • 13424-46-9,

  • Energetic Materials,