Remediating Unexploded Ordnance | SRI International

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SRI researchers examine a IPDM test device.

Remediating Unexploded Ordnance

SRI has developed a novel approach to safely and efficiently render harmless weapons and ammunition that are no longer needed for military use.

Since July 2007, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has sponsored SRI in the development and demonstration of a portable, self-contained system that safely and efficiently demilitarizes (i.e., renders harmless) munitions without impacting the environment. The portable chemical excavation platform, tested successfully in June 2011 as part of DARPA's In-Place Demilitarization of Munitions (IPDM) program, was intended to address the concept of operations associated with haphazardly stacked and scattered munitions.

To achieve faster demilitarization, SRI evolved its approach by first using bacteria, then electrochemical methods, and finally solvents for chemical excavation of the explosive fill. In line with user community requirements, SRI refined its technology to demilitarize live M107 munitions in approximately 30 minutes.

SRI has also conducted limited studies and demonstrations of these related novel ideas and technologies:

  • The conceptual design of a compact demilitarization system that could fit inside a soldier's backpack
  • The concept of a fixed facility to demilitarize hundreds of thousands of submunitions per month
  • Chemical excavation processes for neutralizing munitions filled with stable cast-cured explosives
  • Potential methods for recovering explosives contained in the fill
  • A method of recovering energy contained in the explosive fill by burning the leftover, undetonable slurry in an external combustion engine