ECBC Partners with Japanese Manufacturer to Test Explosive Destruction Technology

ECBC is facilitating developmental testing of an explosive destruction technology (EDT) that has not been used in the United States.

CCDC Chemical Biological Center Public Affairs | May 17th, 2016

ECBC Partners with Japanese Manufacturer to Test Explosive Destruction Technology

CBARR operators place a simulated munition into the DAVINCHLITE as part of simulation exercises at ECBC. The new explosive detonation technology is being tested in an enclosure at the Prototype Detonation Test and Destruction Facility at Edgewood Area Aberdeen Proving Ground.

A team employees from ECBC’s Chemical Biological Application and Risk Reduction (CBARR) business unit, along with members of ECBC’s environmental and safety teams, are participating in the testing of the DAVINCHLITE. DAVINCH stands for Detonation of Ammunition in a Vacuum Integrated Chamber, while LITE refers to a refinement to the original system.

The developmental testing is funded by the Chemical Materials Activity (CMA) and executed under a Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD) contract with Kobe Steel. Kobe Steel was awarded the contract by JPEO-CBD to meet CMA’s requirement, and subsequently partnered with CBARR under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.

Representatives from Kobe Steel arrived at ECBC in mid-February and will be onsite for the duration of the project, which is slated to be completed in July. They are providing technical support, troubleshooting and process electrical engineering.

Testing is being conducted at ECBC to ensure that the system meets U.S. environmental and safety standards, according to Ray DiBerardo, CBARR project manager. No previous tests on the system have been conducted in the U.S.

DAVINCHLITE and DAVINCH, its older, bigger sibling, have been used overseas for almost 10 years. Currently, the DAVINCH series of transportable EDT products is being used in seven projects worldwide, including China, Belgium and France.

The original DAVINCH model is referred to as DV 60, referring to its maximum rating based on the number of kilograms of explosives it holds. DAVINCHLITE, rated at DV 24, has less than half the explosive handling capacity of the original DAVINCH. The slimmed-down version still meets the requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board, which regulates EDTs for military uses.

The system uses implosion energy, which destroys from outside to inside. Donor charges are placed outside the munition. The detonation of these donor explosives shatters the container or munition, and the shock and heat of the explosion destroys the chemical agent and any energetics.

“If testing is successful, DAVINCHLITE will be another tool in the toolbox, as far as EDTs go,” said DiBerardo.

CBARR has already successfully checked off its first task, completing the set-up of the equipment in 20 days, again a first for the system in any country. Comparatively, the DV 60 normally takes two to three months to be completely installed.

Testing began the last week of April and is expected to continue for 40 days. Initial tests will use explosives only, to gauge the ability of the chamber to withstand the blast. The next testing phase will use simulated test 75mm and 155mm projectiles. The final testing phase will use mustard agent contained in Department of Transportation bottles. This testing progression uses a safe, deliberate crawl (explosive), walk (surrogate), run (mustard) approach, DiBerardo said.

Preoperational survey exercises included performing normal operations such as wrapping a munition and placing it in the chamber, as well as preparations for upset conditions such as contamination, a medical emergency or both.

“If the system performs well, additional testing may be requested and the system will stay here a while longer,” DiBerardo said. “In the end, the technology has to prove itself.”

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (CCDC Chemical Biological Center) is the Army’s principal research and development center for chemical and biological defense technology, engineering and field operations. The Center has achieved major technological advances for the warfighter and for our national defense, with a long and distinguished history of providing the armed forces with quality systems and outstanding customer service. The CCDC Chemical Biological Center is located at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.