The objective of this Statement of Need (SON) was to develop emission characterization methodologies for energetic and pyrotechnic formulations. It was expected that characterization methodologies will be shown to be effective at the laboratory scale during this proof of concept testing, with the ultimate goal of developing a field ready methodology under future testing. Research conducted in response to the SON helped to determine concentrations of airborne metals and chemicals of interest in relevant operating environments, including at the end of gun barrels, for estimating warfighter exposure. The results of this research were also be used to determine if metal-based energetic formulations (e.g., primers, explosives) are the primary contributor for airborne metals, or if the gun barrel, liner, casing, or bullet are contributing to airborne metal concentrations.
A successful proposal will develop technologies or methods that accomplish the following:
Proposals shall address complete methodology development and not development of technologies or instrumentation that addresses only a component of the process.
New emissions characterization methodologies will enable the Department of Defense (DoD) to model and predict potential range contamination, occupational exposure levels on ranges, and provide data for off-range migration of airborne contaminants. Stronger predictive capabilities will prepare the DoD to respond to emerging regulation of airborne contaminants and occupational exposure concerns, ultimately, reducing long-term health impacts and regulatory reporting requirements for DoD firing and training ranges and shoot houses.
Training and testing on DoD operational ranges, firing ranges, and shoot houses all have the potential to release hazardous materials as emissions. This is a particular subject of interest for lead-based explosives used in primers and detonators. Emerging regulation for both ambient air and occupational exposure has the potential to impact continued use of lead-based energetic materials. A 2013 study by the National Research Council found that the current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lead blood concentration level is not protective of workers, including those exposed to airborne lead on training ranges and shoot houses.
The impacts of these findings are still being determined; however, it is anticipated that lower occupational exposure levels will be enacted to reduce worker and warfighter exposure to lead on training ranges, shoot houses, and firing ranges. Better characterization of lead emissions at firing points can guide better environmental regulations and inform DoD’s response to them. Some issues may be alleviated through engineering controls at ranges.
Better characterization is also needed for metal combustion products and other emissions that could be transported off-range. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reduced the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for lead by an order of magnitude to 0.15 µg/m3 . Installations that emit ½ ton or more of lead emissions may have to comply with monitoring requirements. This change to the NAAQS increases the risk of violations with continued training with lead-based primary explosives. This NAAQS will be in full effect by 2018.
Finally, there are no accurate ways to predict products from the combustion of pyrotechnics. Thermodynamic models assume complete and ideal detonation, which is often impossible in slow burning, non-ideal pyrotechnic formulations. There are no effective, rapid screening methodologies for identifying products of combustion outside of full-up item testing and random air sampling. Small scale evaluation methodologies would improve formulation selections and help to identify potential environmental contaminants emitted through use of pyrotechnics. This is particularly important for chlorinated compounds that are used in pyrotechnic flares, which have the potential to release chlorinated ring compounds (e.g., dioxins).
To meet the objectives of this SEED SON, proposals should not exceed $150,000 in total cost and approximately one year in duration. Work performed under the SEED SON should investigate innovative approaches that entail high technical risk and/or have minimal supporting data. At the conclusion of the project, sufficient data and analysis should be available to provide risk reduction and/or a proof-of-concept. SEED projects are eligible for follow-on funding if they result in a successful initial project.