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Hexogen and Octogen Utilization


Development of Scientific Grounds and Technologies for Cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX) and Cyclotetramethylenetetranitramine (HMX) Utilization

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-WDS/Waste Disposal/Environment
  • MAT-EXP/Explosives/Materials

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Institute of Organic Chemistry, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • VNIITF, Russia, Chelyabinsk reg., Snezhinsk


  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory / Energetic Materials Center, USA, CA, Livermore\nHoneywell Inc., USA, IL, Des Plaines\nRockefeller University, USA, New York\nLos Alamos National Laboratory, USA, NM, Los-Alamos\nATK Thiokol Propulsion, USA, UT, Brigham City

Project summary

The Project objective is development of scientific grounds and environment-friendly technologies for utilization of powerful high-explosive substances, namely cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX) and cyclotetramethylenetetranitramine (HMX), recovered from munitions subjected to demilitarization or destruction due to shelf-life expiration. Two approaches will be developed to fulfill Project tasks in terms of RDX and HMX transformation in radically different environments and taking into account two types of RDX and HMX characteristics: as typical explosives and typical organic substances. Accordingly, both a research on RDX and HMX transformation to nanomaterials, mostly to ultra-fine diamonds (UFD, for retarded HE), and to corundum (for aluminum-containing HE) under explosion (detonation) conditions in the confined space and a research on RDX and HMX transformation to new valuable chemicals under the action of various chemical reagents will be performed.

The main conditions of the UFD synthesis from some explosives have been relatively well studied and a few UFD scale-up alternatives have been proposed. Some papers have shown a principal practicability of non-explosive substances in the synthesis of UFD as additives to powerful explosives. The Project is a pioneering research in examining the impact of the molecular structure of organic additives (both inert and explosive) and detonation parameters of loading on the UDA synthesis regularities at detonation of additives admixed with HMX and RDX as well as the behavior of an important inorganic additive (a frequent component of high-energy mixtures), i.e. aluminum powder, at detonation, which leads to ultra-fine alumina (Al2O3) – corundum. The properties of the prepared ultra-fine materials as adsorbents and carriers will be studied for developing efficient catalysts for such important reactions as hydrogenation of hydrocarbons (e.g. acetylene or benzene) and complete oxidation of volatile organic compounds.

Methods of the RDX and HMX synthesis and their explosive properties have been well investigated. However systematic researches of their chemical transformation techniques are absent. RDX and HMX interactions with nucleophilic and electrophilic reagents, various reducing agents and some other reagents will be comprehensively studied in view of finding paths for their direct transformation to practically valuable products. The identified regularities will serve as a basis for developing new technologies to prepare promising ophthalmologic, antineoplastic and other drugs – nitric oxide donors containing the N-NO2 fragment, new compounds with pesticide activity, condensation monomers and new high-molecular substances and materials (polyimides, polyamides, etc.) as well as for designing new techniques for the synthesis of organic compounds of various classes.

The above studies are of both basic and applied character. The most of the research efforts focused on the ultra-fine materials preparation will be performed at RFNC-VNIITF; the synthesis of new organic substances based on RDX and HMX will be carried out at ZIOC RAS. These institutions have all necessary equipment, highly qualified research and technical personnel and wide experience in the relevant researches.

The Project is scheduled for 3 years.

The Project provides Russian weapon designers and researchers with an opportunity of re-focusing on civil activities. It also supports civil basic and applied researches, including environmental protection, contributes to finding national and international technological solutions associated with rational destruction of demilitarized explosives, i.e. RDX and HMX, and promotes scientific networking and integration of CIS scientists into international scientific community.

The Project results will enable to give sound recommendations on best technologies for demilitarized RDX and HMX transformation to valuable materials and chemicals.


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