The goal of this research was to evaluate several technologies developed at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as a means for the demilitarization of several different munitions commodities. This project sought to develop a system for safe demilitarization of munitions that allow for recycling or reuse of individual components and an environmentally safe wastestream for those components that cannot be reused. The project evaluated the feasibility of three novel technologies developed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the degradation of hexachloroethane, chloroacetophone, trinitrotoluene (TNT), and propellant AF-M315E. The technologies are Zero Valent Magnesium (ZVMg), visible light photocatalysis, and an innovative use of ion exchange resins. The guiding principle of the project was to minimize complexity and operational hazards.
In all, three separate and novel methods were assessed to determine their possible efficacy to demilitarize munitions including TNT, HCE, CN, and AF-M315E.
Processing rate: Tests 1 and 3 were both fully successful so they can be used to calculate the processing rate. Test 1 used a flow rate of 77 ml/min and test 3 was about half, 38.8 ml/min. Accounting for the 1:500 dilution of AF-M315E in water before processing, this corresponds to a maximum processing rate of 9 ml/hr of pure AF-M315E using a resin bed of 154 ml, containing 153 g. Using a simple linear scaling of 100 to get to 1 l/hr, the bed would be 15 liters. Theoretically, the 154 ml bed should have been able to process 12.4 ml of pure AF-M315E, but in these tests only the equivalent of 5 ml of pure propellant was processed before breakthrough. Further optimization should lead to faster processing rates and/or smaller bed volumes. If implemented in a continuous as described in section 7.2, then the time of regeneration is actually the slow step. In these tests, AF-M315E processing took 30 – 60 minutes while bed regeneration took 120 minutes.
Safety: No safety issues occurred or would be anticipated in future work. Before starting laboratory work for this project, the proposed process went through a full safety review.
The following tasks are proposed to further advance this technology.