Sandia LabNews

Explosive Destruction System gets more testing at Aberdeen

Explosive Destruction System, take two: After prototype debut, field system getting checkout at Aberdeen

The newest Explosive Destruction System (EDS), built for field deployment, has arrived at the US Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for operational testing.

Designed by Sandia for the Army’s Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization, the transportable, self-contained system can neutralize recovered, explosively configured, chemical munitions without resorting to open burn/ open detonation. Open burn/open detonation involves packing excess explosives around a chemical munition to destroy the chemical agent in the resulting fireball during detonation. While open burn/open detonation is a viable destruction method, it is not desirable near public areas or where the blast can cause environmental damage.

This new EDS trailer becomes the second slated for operational deployment. The first EDS, a prototype, was deployed to the field last year, following engineering development testing at Porton Down, England. Although never intended for field use, the prototype was chosen to neutralize sarin-containing bomblets unexpectedly uncovered at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal outside of Denver. It explosively opened the bomblets inside the EDS chamber and successfully neutralized the sarin (Lab News, March 9, 2001).

The new field system incorporates a few changes from the prototype. For a more rapid and complete mixing in the containment chamber, a munition (once opened using explosive charges) and its contents are mixed with neutralizing chemicals by a full rotation of the sealed chamber at 2 rpm, rather than the back-and-forth tilt used in the prototype.

In addition, operations management has been improved by consolidating all control subsystems at just one location in the system’s process area. The unit itself is a semi-trailer (fifth-wheel, 30-foot, double-drop); the prototype was a two-axle, four-wheeled trailer equipped with a pintle hitch.

In late November, the Army began training and familiarization with the new system at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Formal operational testing, which is expected to take four months, will begin this month. The familiarization process has generated "pretty positive comments so far," says John Rosenow (8118), who supports field and operational testing, as he did previously for the system’s predecessor.

In addition, a third system, identical to the unit just delivered, is in the final phase of fabrication and will begin acceptance testing at Sandia this month. A fourth system, with higher explosive capability, is also in fabrication. Its delivery date is late this fiscal year.

The design and fabrication work is a joint effort within centers 8100 and 8700 in California and organization 15322 in New Mexico.