Machine Design

Explosive destruction for biological weapons

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratory have proven that the Army's Explosive Destruction System can destroy biological agents and weapons.

The 55,000-lb system was built in 1998 to deactivate chemical weapons by explosively opening their casing and then neutralize harmful chemicals. It includes a rotating pressure vessel that contains any blast, vapor, and fragments generated, as well as chemicals being neutralized.

The trailer-borne system also carries a range of linear and conical explosive charges for opening sealed munitions. A chemical storage and feed subsystem supplies reagents and water to the vessel for handling bioagents, while a waste-handling subsystem drains or stores treated effluents. The device uses steam autoclaving, gas fumigation, chlorine dioxide and chlorine bleach to destroy bioagents. There are currently five EDS units and they are used mainly to dispose of aging weapons.

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