Safeguarding Warfighter Access to Next-Generation Munitions through Wastewater Technology

Award Year 

A multi-agency team that included personnel from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC); the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC); the Program Executive Office – Ammunition (PEO AMMO); the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command (JMC); and students and faculty from the U.S. Military Academy’s (USMA) Systems Engineering Department collaborated to streamline and modernize the treatment technologies of new insensitive munitions (IMs) formulations at load-and-pack (LAP) (more) industrial base operations and to transfer their technologies to the U.S. Army and the private sector. Initially, the team started working together to solve simple process control and plant operation issues associated with the caustic, pH 3, IM production water, i.e., the IM water was degrading the transfer plumbing and becoming a potential operations issue.  The team successfully developed and transitioned an innovative application of a process to replace high-cost sorptive treatment of wastewater. To overcome the obstacle of the IM material’s high water solubility, the team developed two new steps to be incorporated into the treatment process. They strategically designed these two steps together to cost-effectively remove most of the contaminants from the IM wastewater, leaving the last step only for removing trace amounts of the contaminants. The team worked on this effort, with an initial assessment of the new munitions constituents and the implications of these new materials for LAP operations and installations such as Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (IAAAP), Crane, and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCAAP). The impacted sites included both government-owned and government-operated (GOGO) and government-owned and contractor-operated (GOCO) industrial base facilities. Research and development progressed from benchtop experiments, to laboratory pilot treatment systems, to field-deployed treatment systems, and required operational modifications to accommodate the new explosive fills. Best management practices (BMPs) were established for the handling of IM production water and process wastewater in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner. These BMPs include a cost-effective and environmentally safe process water treatment system that has been incorporated into full-scale operations at LAP ammunition plants. The team’s innovative treatment technology significantly reduced treatment costs from $6.00 per gallon to $0.55 per gallon. Through their intensive, multidimensional approach to technology transfer, the team transitioned their effective research and development technology to ammunition plants performing load and pack on an industrial scale, guaranteeing the economic viability of these plants—thereby ensuring that our nation’s warfighters receive the most effective and the safest equipment to accomplish their critical missions. Contact: John Farr, (845) 667-9573, (less)