The objective of this project is to develop and demonstrate an environmentally friendly propulsion system (energetics, insulation, case, etc.) that meets current and future mission requirements across the Department of Defense (DoD). This project will culminate in the static testing of subscale motors containing the novel propellant to demonstrate propellant performance and the extrusion of a 10” diameter rocket motor grains to demonstrate manufacturing feasibility.
BAE Systems, Inc. (BAES) manufacturers extruded double base (EDB) propellants at its Radford Army Ammunition Plant facility. These propellants are based on the thermoplastic nitrocellulose (NC) and nitroglycerin (NG) binder system rather than the thermoset (curable) binder system. The advantage of the EDB system is that it does not require the use of isocyanates for curing the propellant and the NC and NG act as the oxidizers so the need for ammonium perchlorate is eliminated.
Historically, EDB propellants have utilized lead salts as burning rate catalysts. In recent years, BAES has developed propellant formulations that utilize nontoxic ingredients with low water solubility to enhance the ballistic properties. In addition, BAES has been evaluating 1,3,5,7-Tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocane (HMX) as an additive to the EDB propellants to improve the specific impulse of the formulations. HMX has favorable solubility properties when compared to 1,3,5-Trinitro-1,3,5-triazinane (RDX) and greater stability when compared to CL-20.
The long-term benefit to DoD is a demonstrated (proven) technology that meets or exceeds current state of the art performance. This will provide greater standoff distances, shorter time to target, and extended service life for large tactical rocket motors. All of these objectives can be accomplished without the addition of RDX, ammonium perchlorate, or isocyanates that can be extremely harmful to the environment, the warfighters, and the personnel that manufacture the munitions. This will lead to long term cost savings through reduced labor and disposal costs on the manufacturing end, lower facility remediation costs at test ranges, and lower medical costs incurred due to exposure to toxic chemicals.