The U.S. Army has an interest in developing Insensitive Munitions (IM) to replace high explosives (HE) formulations without sacrificing lethality and performance. MDNT (1-methyl-3,5-dinitro-1,2,4-triazole) bridges a technical gap between Comp B and IMX-104 for a meltable IM HE solution that does not compromise performance or output. The current manufacturing for MDNT utilizes batch chemistry which, in this case, suffers from scalability, low product yields, low throughput, and generates a large volume of waste. A need exists to move away from batch chemistry towards a more environmental and economic method. Advanced Flow Reactor (AFR) technology is an example of continuous flow chemistry, which allows for seamless scalability, increased product yields, decreased waste generation, and increased safety. In addition, the increased heat transfer capabilities offered by the AFR system afford new opportunities to evaluate an alternative chemistry that is impossible to attempt in a batch reactor; continuous chemistry thus becomes an enabling technology. The overall objective of this project is to demonstrate a continuous process for the manufacturing of MDNT utilizing AFR technology in a full-scale production G3 reactor system, as opposed to a batch process.
Nalas and ARDEC have identified AFR as a safety-conscious, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective technology for the high throughput production of MDNT. The AFR production method will be demonstrated with success being measured by reduction of solvent waste generated, ease of product isolation, increased yield, and increased operator safety. Employing AFR technology for the manufacture of MDNT supports the following sub-objectives:
This project benefits the Department of Defense by providing a high throughput scalable process for the replacement of Comp B to mitigate the environmental impacts of RDX and TNT. PEO Ammo views MDNT as a direct Comp B replacement in certain end items for which IMX-104 lacks the required performance output such as the M67 fragmentation grenade and the M1061 enhanced fragmentation mortar. Cost savings associated with an AFR-based MDNT production, versus batch process, will help its transition. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2019)