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Non-Destructive Inspection of Modern Explosives and Ammunition Housings



OBJECTIVE: Develop a methodology and build a prototype to quickly perform non-destructive corrosion testing of small arms ammunition components in the field prior to use by the warfighter or during the development of new energetic materials. 

DESCRIPTION: Energetic material advances have resulted in the development of several suitable lead-free replacements for lead styphnate and lead azide in munition formulations. These lead-free energetic materials could potentially create unexpected corrosive environments for traditional cartridge brass and other munition components. Further efforts to replace cartridge brass with novel lightweight and/or combustible cartridge cases creates additional unknown long-term reliability issues. Field testing of ammunition components is therefore critical in future deployments to assure weapon system effectiveness from the ammunition life cycle perspective, i.e. the time of production to the time of expenditure. Many field techniques are currently subject to a visual inspection of the small arms ammunition but recent advances in non-destructive metallurgical and material analysis allows for this inspection to be more analytically robust and time effective. This SBIR project provides the opportunity to employ these modern corrosion inspection techniques to be implemented for use in developmental stages of new energetic materials and in the field for a wide range of small arms ammunition components. 

PHASE I: Develop process validity and methodology for non-destructive inspection of modern explosives and munition housings on a lab scale. Identify, develop, and test likely lead-replacement candidates against likely substrates based on the published literature. Major considerations for the success of the feasibility study include the time of inspection and quality of the reported data. 

PHASE II: Based on the methodology established during the Phase I, a hand-held test cell prototype will be developed and certified to the appropriate Military standards, specifications, and UL requirements. This prototype test cell will incorporate appropriately designed small arms ammunition component tooling to provide an interface with different applications. A working prototype test cell with directions on its use will be delivered to the Program Executive Officer for Ammunition for field testing. 

PHASE III: If this program is demonstrated to be successful, this non-destructive inspection technique for modern explosives and ammunition housings can be used in both military and civilian applications. Military applications include small arms components (5.56mm, 7.62mm, and .50 calibers), explosive munitions (M42, M55, and M61 initiators), and medium caliber (20mm, 25mm, 30mm and 40mm), as well as, potentially large caliber (60mm, 81mm, 105mm, and 120mm) ammunitions. Civilian applications include hunting, sport shooting, and law enforcement. 


1: Military Standard Practice MIL-STD-889C, Dissimilar Metals, revision C (DOD, 22 August 2016)

2:  Design Criteria Standard MIL-STD-1568C, Materials and Processes for Corrosion Prevention and Control in Aerospace Weapons Systems, revision C (DOD, 12 August 2014)

3:  Test Method Standard MIL-STD-1904B, Design and Test Requirements for Level A Ammunition Packaging, revision B, (DOD, 09 March 2016)

4:  Drobockyi, Volodymyr and Viggiano, Anthony, inventor

5:  Shell Shock Technologies, Inc. assignee. Method of Making a Casing and Cartridge for Firearm, US patent application 2017/0030692 A1. February 2, 2017.

6:  Natarajan R., Angelo P.C., George N.T., and Tamhankar R.V. 1974. Dezincification of Cartridge Brass. Corrosion. 31 (8): 302-303

7:  Hagel R., and Redecker K. 1986. Sintox – A New, Non-Toxic Primer Composition by Dynamit Nobel AG. Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics. 11: 184-187

8:  Ostrowski P., Puszynski J., Bichay M. 2006. Nano Energetics for US Navy Percussion Primer Applications. AIChe Annual Meeting. San Francisco, CA

9:  Fischer D., KlapÓ§tke T., Stierstorfer J. 2014. Potassium 1,1’-Dinitramino-5,5’-bistetrazolate: A Primary Explosive with Fast Detonation and High Initiation Power. Angewadnte Communications, International Edition. 53: 8172-8175

10:  Fronabarger J., Williams M., Sanborn W., Bragg J., Parrish D., and Bichay M. 2011. DBX-1 - A Lead Free Replacement for Lead Azide. Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics. 36: 541-550

KEYWORDS: Green Energetics, Small Arms Ammunition, Non-destructive Testing, Corrosion 

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