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Ecological Evaluation of Solid Propellant Firing


Development of Methods for Evaluation and Diminishing Ecological Hazards upon Open Firing Large Scale Solid Propellant Charges

Tech Area / Field

  • CHE-IND/Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Process Engineering/Chemistry
  • ENV-APC/Air Pollution and Control/Environment
  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment
  • NNE-FUE/Fuels/Non-Nuclear Energy

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Ryzhova T B

Leading Institute
Tomsk State University, Russia, Tomsk reg., Tomsk

Supporting institutes

  • Federal Research and Production Center «Altai», Russia, Altay reg., Biysk


  • University of Iowa, USA, IA, Iowa City\nFiat Avio S.p.A, Italy, Colleferro\nLawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA, CA, Livermore\nFraunhofer Institute Chemische Technologie, Germany, Pfinztal

Project summary

The utilization problem of large amounts of solid propellants (SP) exists in many countries all over the world. The problem arises in connection with the necessity of reducing the number of military rockets (START-2 Treaty between the USA and Russia), and also with the necessity of demolishing solid rocket motors with expired service life and utilization of defect charges. The utilization problem can be solved by many ways, and one of them is open burning of solid propellant charges. It implies combustion of propellant inside the rocket motor with removed nozzle section. This excludes dangerous operation on processing (cutting) solid propellant charges and makes possible to utilize some part of combustion products of SP for the following use when the firing is performed at special facilities.

To provide the data necessary for designing facilities for utilization of solid propellants, it is necessary to perform tests on open firing (evaluation experiments using disintegrated rocket motors without nozzle) of large SP charges. The firings are planned to take place at the ground test facilities of Federal Research and Production Center ALTAI, Biysk, Russia. The goal of the project is establishment of the background for evaluating ecological hazard and development of the complex of measures to reduce the impact of combustion products on the environment upon open firing the large-scale solid propellant charges.

Experimental and theoretical studies of the formation and propagation of the combustion products cloud arising during open firing solid propellant charges with mass up to 50-60 tons are planned to be performed. Based on these results, the evaluation of ecological hazard will be made and recommendations how to reduce the operation influence of the test bench on the environment in the region have been developed. The data received can be used also for designing and constructing enterprises for utilization (disposal) of solid propellants. Also, these data can be useful for evaluating ecological hazard in case of the fire at enterprises manufacturing SP.


Combustion products of modern SP are known to contain some harmful gas components (hydrochloric acid, nitrogen oxides, carbon oxide, chlorine oxide, etc.) and aerosol of aluminum oxide as well. The real composition of combustion products obtaining during open firing large-scale charges is unknown due to the lack of the initial data for computation. However, to perform tests for receiving only this information is too expensive. Thus, the open firings of large SP charges planned at ALTAI under special agreements should be effectively used for the research aimed to get the important experimental information.

As is known, fine particles of aluminum oxide with developed external surface are formed during SP combustion. The following condensation of adverse gas components (acids, benz[а]-pyrenes, dioxines, etc.) on the surface of these aerosol particles can enhance the influence of aerosol clouds on the environment. The cloud can propagate for tens and hundreds of kilometers. The effect of the environment pollution becomes highly expressed under conditions of the Siberian climate in winter when turbulent mixing in the atmosphere is weak, and the height of mixing zone is relatively small (no more than hundred meters at a low temperature). The precipitation of liquid and solid aerosol particles on the earth surface results in water and soil pollution. The possible pollution danger can be estimated based on experimental data and theoretical computation. It is evident that the date of performing the firing of large solid propellant charge in each particular case should be determined with regard to current meteorological conditions at this area and the prediction of the probable danger for the environment made on the basis of mathematical simulation.

Detailed measurements of burning parameters of large solid propellant charges under the Project are expected to perform at the testing bench of ALTAI. Simultaneously laboratory experiments on firing solid propellant samples will be conducted in Tomsk State University. The mathematical models of open firing will be worked out. The models of combustion clouds propagation based on the experimental data will also be developed there and the computing software and examination system for the evaluation of the influence of combustion products on the environment will be made.

Basic tasks of the project.

1. Development of the measurement methodology and testing bench equipment for recording open firing large-size solid propellant charges.

2. Fundamental study of the processes of condensed phase formation during combustion of solid propellant.

3. Experimental study of the formation and propagation of combustion cloud when firing large-size solid propellant charges.

4. Development of the software packages for simulation of the processes of SP open burning under different meteorological conditions taking into account possible introduction into the flame zone of neutralization and other additives and simulation of combustion cloud propagation.

5. Elaboration of recommendations on reducing ecological hazard when performing open firing the SP large scale charges.

Project participants and their contributions.

All participants of the project have been engaged in the study and the use of SP for some decades. The participants have a long time practice of joint activities and have sound scientific background and technical facilities.

Federal Research and Production Center ALTAI, Biysk, has unique ground test facilities for open firing of large-scale solid propellant charges. Testing benches are fitted with devices for sampling combustion products, measuring the pressure and the temperature in a combustion chamber and in the gases exhausted. ALTAI also has all the necessary to perform initial physical and chemical analyses of specimens sampled.

Tomsk State University has a vast experience in modeling the parameters of interior ballistics processes in solid rocket motors with regard to burning, coagulation and fragmentation of metal particles as well as in the computation of thermal fields and propagation of aerosol clouds formed when burnt solid propellant charges. The computer codes are developed with the use of various versions of computation process organization that includes implementation of different operating modules, e.g. multiprocessor systems MVK-100. It also includes the use of the multi-computer network based on high performance PC working under the protocol TCP/IP.

In Tomsk State University, the scientific school founded by Prof. V. Vilyunov successfully works. The school is well known by the accomplishments in the field of experimental and theoretical study of solid propellant combustion. In addition, unique investigations on evaluation of the defects in the functional state of plant and animal organisms have been performed recently.

Expected Results of Work.

In the course of performing the project the following results are planned to achieve:

1. Elaborate the principles of ecological tracking of the open firing large SP charges and equip the test facilities with the proper recording systems;

2. Obtain quantitative experimental data on combustion products characteristics of metallized propellants in various scale laboratory set ups as well as in open firing tests with large SP charges;

3. Develop comprehensive mathematical models and elaborate computer codes to describe ecological impact of combustion products of large SP charges;

4. Formulate on the basis of the results of these studies the recommendations on reduction of ecological hazard during open firing large SP charges and upon utilization of SP at special enterprises.


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