Commercial Reformulation: An Economic and Environmentally Neutral Means of Managing Explosives and Solid Propellants


The reformulation of military explosives and solid propellants into commercial explosives offers a unique solution to the problem of disposing of high energy materials with essentially zero environmental impact at a low cost and with a salable product. Studies using the insensitive PBX, PBXN-4 have been completed through the pilot plant stage and have been successfully tested as a mining explosive. A number of other military explosives have been examined and their VOD's (velocity on detonation) and heats of explosions determined and in some instances tested in 'field' operations. The equipment and unit operations required for reformulation are simple and inexpensive. The total market potential is far larger than the available supply of PBX's and other military explosives. The extension of the reformulation approach to 1.1 solid rocket propellants is in progress. Initial studies indicate that the method is viable. The quantities involved have the potential of impacting less than 1% of the very large US explosives market. The products available from reformulation are in part a function of the means of removal of the 1.1 propellants from the cases. With dry methods, a range of products from 'super' blasting gelatins to materials comparable to ANFO are available in the form of dry or slurried explosives. With wet methods, the range is narrower with VOD's of approximately 4 km/sec and heats of explosion of approximately 1000 cal/g at a density of 1.25 g/cc being easily attainable in the form of slurries. With both HE and 1.1 propellant streams it is possible to tailor the power of the resultant explosives to reach a desired set of properties. This permits the handling of a variable stream of redundant materials and the furnishing of a 'constant' product to the customer. The technology involved has essentially no waste stream and very closely meets the goals of the US Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

Meeting Name

1994 JANNAF Safety and Environmental Protection Subcommittee Meeting


Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Second Department

Mining Engineering

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 1994 John Hopkins University, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 1994

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