Tooele's Ammunition Test Site performs cryofracture and treatment study
August 13, 2013
A Cryobath container full of liquid nitrogen and cryopress test fixture are being used for the freezing and crushing of Department of Defense munitions. Sub munitions, M74 antipersonnel, M75 anti tank mines, and MK118 rockeye bomblets that have been identified to be part of the feasibility study to cryofracture the sub munitions and incinerate them in the Ammunition Testing Facility, APE 1236M2 Deactivation Furnace located at Tooele Army Depot (TEAD).
The technical team consists of the Ammunition Equipment Directorate (AED) at Tooele Army Depot, UT; Program Manager for Demil, Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, and General Atomics (GA). This partnership has been in place since the late eighties and has led to many successful test programs. The current study started last year in late fall and is expected to successfully be completed in the spring of 2014.
Cryofracture involves cooling of munitions in liquid nitrogen for approximately fifteen minutes and then crushing its casing in the Cryofracture Press with hydraulic power, followed by the entire munition being fed at approximately 425 degrees through the Ammunition Peculiar Equipment (APE) 1236 Deactivation Testing Furnace.
The process is to evaluate the feasibility of the cryofracture process as a pre-processing step (exposing explosive & mechanical components) for the demilitarization of mines and submunitions. The test will also determine the capability and feed rate in the Ammunition Peculiar Equipment (APE) 1236 Deactivation Furnace System to incinerate cryofractured munitions.
Safety is a primary factor in the Cryofracture process. In addition to highly conservative safety features for normal facility operations, safety features are also provided for unexpected or off-normal events. The portion of the system where munitions are crushed is surrounded by an explosive-containment chamber that is designed to protect equipment and personnel in the event of an unexpected detonation. Containment of dust and vapors is assured, while numerous remote features minimize personnel exposure and risk.
Cryofracture provides the flexibility to safely destroy any type of munitions in any condition, making it uniquely applicable to old and abandoned munitions. Other demilitarization processes depend on either the ability to disassemble the munitions or the use of slow accessing processes to expose the munition contents for destruction or recycle. Old and abandoned munitions are usually degraded, and the details of internal construction may not be well known. Cryofracture provides a rapid, reliable, robust process to access the munitions without contaminating the contents or requiring munition disassembly. Cryofracture is also compatible with a variety of subsequent processing steps, including other demilitarization technologies developed by GA.
"The AED test facility at TEAD provides a unique opportunity for clients like PM Demil to validate demilitarization processes. The combination of AED knowledge of ammunition related equipment, remote test location and availability of the overall depot mission allows for a valuable service for our customers," stated Brent Hunt, AED General Engineer for Tooele Army Depot.
Tooele Army Depot is the Department of Defense's western region conventional ammunition hub supporting Warfighter readiness through superior receipt, storage, issue, demil and renovation of conventional ammo and the design, manufacture, fielding and maintenance of ammo peculiar equipment.