Researchers investigate residues from live-fire training

U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Public Affairs
Published Aug. 25, 2017
Researchers investigate live-fire training

Firing position tests: Anti-tank rocket test in Alaska and Canadian Leopard tank firing test in Quebec. Following live fire testing of munitions in the field, researchers from the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) collect residues samples to analyze in laboratories in Hanover, New Hampshire, and Anchorage, Alaska. Residues deposition rates and munitions efficiencies are estimated from the data.

HANOVER, N.H. (Aug. 22, 2017) -- Researchers with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory are working to cleanup military munitions residues and, in turn, the environment by measuring detonated munitions residues and munitions efficiency. 

The use of live munitions on training ranges can result in the deposit of residue at firing positions, disposal points and down range impact areas.  To determine the impacts of live-fire training, CRREL researchers are investigating the deposit of this residue with new technologies to address accumulation, characterization, fate and transport.  

CRREL has developed standards, protocols and innovative tools to measure and characterize contamination levels across active and legacy training ranges.  Advanced technologies, such as three-dimensional micro-computerized tomography, specialized surface photomicrography and Raman spectroscopy enable CRREL to physically characterize propellant and explosive residue particles.

Researchers Michael Walsh and Matthew Bigl recently traveled to Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, to brief the Armaments Research, Development and Engineering Center’s program managers and other interested program and office leads on the results of joint tests conducted at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, by CRREL and ARDEC.  

The briefing, included a discussion of tests, results, implications, recommendations and potential continued research, while detailing CRREL’s expertise in the testing and delivery of data on post-detonation residue and associated determination of munitions efficiency. 

“This munitions work is the basis of all range sustainability models and is beginning to be used to assess munitions efficiencies,” said Walsh. “The knowledge gained from our testing is also being used by our NATO and European allies for development of range sustainability programs.”

CRREL’s techniques, tools, methods and protocols for munitions residue characterization and analysis are currently the standards for military training land and firing range investigations.  This research into energetic compounds and propellants in the environment is applicable to cold and temperate regions and both military and non-military lands. 

CRREL is one of seven laboratories of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, headquartered in Vicksburg, Mississippi.