Mobile Alternative Demilitarization Technologies

Volume 12 of the series NATO ASI Series pp 19-39

Cryofracture as a Mobile Demilitarization Technology for Non-Stockpile Chemical Munitions

  • M. H. SpritzerAffiliated withGeneral Atomics
  • , L. D. JohnsonAffiliated withGeneral Atomics

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Cryofracture is a demilitarization process that has been under development for chemical agent munitions for over 12 years. Cryofracture employs liquid nitrogen to pre-cool munitions prior to fracturing in a hydraulic press. Cryofracture exposes the chemical agents and explosives for subsequent destruction by other means such as thermal or chemical treatment. The cryofracture process is designed to demilitarize projectiles, cartridges, mortar rounds, mines and rockets. Over $60 million has been spent by the U.S. Army to develop cryofracture for demilitarization of chemical agent munitions stored at stockpile sites in the U.S. Extensive tests have been performed with live explosives and simulant agents, and the test results verify all key aspects of the process.

More recently, the cryofracture process has been applied to conventional munitions with the same good results. The process is also likely to find application for non-stockpile chemical munitions in the U.S. and throughout the world. A description of the process and the results of extensive testing are presented, with particular emphasis on the adaptation of cryofracture to non-stockpile chemical munitions.