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Destruction of Energetic Materials in Supercritical Water

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Final rept. 15 Oct 1987-1 Apr 1992

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This effort was a survey of the compatibility of a broad series of representative energetic materials EM commonly used in propellants, munitions and explosives with a proposed process of controlled decomposition in water near or above the critical temperature approximately 373 CC, Central issues, in order of consideration, are safety, environmental compatibility of decomposition products, destruction efficiency, extrapolation to compounded formulations of EM, and engineering considerations for scale-up to full-scale operation. The sequence followed in these investigations was 1 initial safety evaluation and small-scale stability tests on each of 13 individual energetic ingredients commonly used in rocket propellants, munitions, or explosives all passed this stage 2 determination of global kinetics and Destruction and Removal Efficiencies DREs destruction was complete - all DREs are limited by sensitivity of detection 3 identification of products and byproducts of the process to verify environmental compatibility all tested passed this criterion and 4 detailed reaction kinetics determinations and development of computational models qualitatively successful application to nitromethane. An important result was the development of safe and practical means to deliver water-insoluble energetic materials EM into the supercritical region These methods included 1 slurried particles, 2 dissolution in an organic solvent or supercritical carbon dioxide, and 3 digestion in aqueous alkali. A pilot-scale continuous pipe reactor suitable for handling slurried, dissolved, or hydrolyzed explosives was built and tested. Results show that supercritical water is a favorable medium for decomposition of waste and off-spec EM. The process appears to be controllable, and the decomposition products are contained until they are consciously released.

Subject Categories:

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Solid Wastes and Pollution and Control

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