Green Energetics

PSEMC is proud of our continued work over the past two decades contributing to the development of GREEN ENERGETIC material solutions for replacement of existing lead-based materials used in products such as detonators, warheads, primers, ignition devices, and other pyro train elements.  Both Lead Azide (LA) and Lead Styphnate (LS) have been widely used in ordnance systems for many years.  They are reliable explosive materials and because they have been studied extensively, properties and manufacturing processes are well defined.  However, despite being useful energetic materials, LA and LS contain lead, a toxic heavy metal that is released to the environment during production and use.  Environmental health and safety regulations on lead containing materials are quite extensive and are likely to increase in severity in the future, along with compliance costs.  The manufacture, use, demilitarization and disposal of LA and LS (and ordnance containing them) are deeply impacted by these regulations, and lead-free alternatives to LA and LS have been sought for a number of years.

Our Green Energetics support environmentally friendly solutions to replace Lead Azide and Lead Styphnate found in both defense and commercial applications.

Lead Azide Replacement

DBX-1 is a copper-based drop-in replacement for all variants of lead azide (LA) with potential to replace DXN-1.  DBX-1 has energetic characteristics that our industry has been trying to duplicate for the last 50 years.

All variants of lead azide (LA), including RD-1333, Dextrinated Lead Azide, and PVA have been widely used in ordnance systems for many years.  Virtually all chemical detonators utilize LA as the initial shock wave generating compound necessary for proper detonation of subsequent main explosive charges.


In the Literature

“New Study on Lead-free Primary Explosives – DBX-1 is a suitable drop-in replacement for lead azide in a variety of ordnance applications whereas…” (Read More at Wiley.com)

PSEMC completed an 8020.5C military qualification program in 2009. DBX-1 has been successfully evaluated against LA in many products across the spectrum of defense and commercial applications.  Other companies which utilize LA have evaluated DBX-1 in a variety of applications with very positive results as have several DoD organizations.

PSEMC currently makes DBX-1 in 100 gram batches for use by government and industry.  Future scale-up to 1 Kg and beyond is underway with support from the US Army and commercial organizations.

DBX-1 – X-ray Structure

DBX-1 – Chemical Structure

DBX-1 – 100X Photomicrograph

Lead Styphnate Replacement

Lead styphnate (LS) is a primary explosive widely used in ordnance systems as components in defense initiation trains.  These applications include non-corrosive percussion primers, stab initiated devices, bridgewire initiated compositions, and detonators.  It is used in nearly all commercial primer applications as well.  Lead styphnate has been widely used in ordnance systems for many years.

PSEMC has completed an NAVSEAINST 8020.5C evaluation testing on a LS replacement, 4,6-dinitro-7-hydroxy benzofuroxan, potassium salt (KDNP).  Based on the results, Naval Sea Systems Command has qualified KDNP as a primary explosive in accordance with the requirements of NAVSEAINST 8020.5C and identified as a safe and suitable for service use, and qualified for weapons development.

In addition to qualification testing, KDNP (U.S. Patent 8,062,443 for use in Lead Free Primers) has been successfully evaluated against LS for performance in a variety of applications.  KDNP has compatibility which is equal to or greater than LS with a variety of ordnance materials and has substantially greater output on a weight basis in pressure-time (closed bomb) testing.  Significantly, KDNP may be conveniently recrystallized to a particle size appropriate for use in a variety of systems so may be tailored for use as either a (small particle) component of a bridgewire slurry or a (large particle) constituent of a stab primer.

KDNP - X-ray Structure
KDNP - Chemical Structure
KDNP - 200X Photomicrograph

For more information on our Green Energetics, please contact Dr. Mike Williams, Senior Chemist, at mwilliams@psemc.com or 480-763-3063.