Conditions for the Demilitarization of Ammunition The process has to be: Safe Technical feasible Environmental safe belonging to Air, Ground, Water and Noise (Following the German Environmental Laws and Regulations) Operational economic
The Different Methods of Demilitarization (1) The overall aim of demilitarization was, to keep the value of the material as high as possible. Therefore the following procedure was recommended in the following order:
The Different Methods of Demilitarization (2) Recycling of the explosive material Reprocessing to other useful materials Biological/chemical decomposing to interim products or to final products Incineration under environmental friendly conditions
The Different Methods of Demilitarization (3) Following these recommendations a large research-programme has started by research companies and research institutes like ICT. During the first years of Demilitarization the principle was not observed in all cases because of the urgency of the task.
Result of the Alkaline Pressure Hydrolysis Nitrocellulose and Nitroglycerin were completely degraded. Nitro- and Amino-aromatics are largely reduced and a subsequent biological step will lower the Nitrogen content again. Graphite will be not dissolved by this process. The heavy-metal-content has no negative influence on the biodegradation. The stabilizers decrease are no longer detectable.
Different Incineration Process for Energetic Materials (Situation in the year 1991) Batch-Type Incinerator (Example: Pantex AES-Plant) Rotary Incinerator (Example: Burlington AEC-Plant or Hercules Redford AAD) Deactivation Furnace (Example: Toole Army Depot) Fluidized Bed Incinerator (Example: ARRADCOM)
Fig. 1 Incineration Plant of the »EST-Entsorgungsanlagen Betriebsgesellschaft«
Conclusion (1) Research and Development and experiences in Germany have shown the following statements: The chosen methods for the special treatments of old munitions (recycling, reprocessing, conversion and all kinds of destruction of the energetic material) will be dependant in principle on the available amount of the special material.
Conclusion (2) In nearly all cases environmental safe treatment of the explosive materials, special investigations are necessary. The value of the final product must be comparable with the market price. If the market price is low, only very few methods are available in practice although they are technical feasible.
Conclusion (3) The destruction of the explosives should be the ultimate solutions for demilitarization, but according to the matter of price in many cases the only solution. The praxis has shown, the environmental safe demilitarization of ammunition costs money and will be more expensive than people estimate.
Conclusion (4) As we all know, production of ammunition costs money. Demilitarization of ammunition in an environmental safe manner costs also money, sometimes in the same order. Good experiences was made, if the explosive industry was commissioned to be engaged with this task, because these people are used to handle the dangerous material.
Conclusion (5) In the past large amounts of energetic materials were available for demilitarization. But these amounts are not comparable with those of commercial explosives by 10 to 100 times. This observation should be kept in mind, if an industrial production for a commercial product should be developed based on a reprocessed explosive material.
Conclusion (6) Beside these general statements the following special experiences were found: According to market prices the recycling of explosives like TNT or RDX including cleaning and/or recristallization for an other purpose is in most cases not recommended. The same situation will be also observed with Nitrocellulose.
Conclusion (7) Recycling of Ammoniumperchlorat is recommended only, if huge amounts are available. Recycling of HMX is recommended in most cases. Detonator- and Igniter-materials should be wasted. Mercury compound should be reprocessed into Mercury.
Conclusion (8) Delaborated gun-propellants, chopped rocket propellants and high explosives like TNT may be used as components in commercial explosives if the national regulations give permission. Selling the metal components of the ammunition as raw-material will be almost the only profit of the job, but will be reduced by the expenses of delaboration of the ammunition.