A basic component required for the efficient and effective use of most future medium caliber high explosive rounds is the small electro-explosive detonator (EED), the electrochemical device that initiates the explosive event. The standard device currently employed in these designs is the M100 detonator that consists of separate, small initiating, transition, and output charges pressed into a metallic housing. The M100 performs the detonator function well, but the initiating and transition charges are environmentally hazardous, containing several heavy metal compounds that contaminate the firing and manufacturing areas.

The objective of this project was to evaluate and test DAHA (1,1-diamino-3, 3-5,5,7,7-hexaazidocyclotetraphospazene) as a rapid deflagration to detonation (DDT) charge.

Technical Approach

Compounds investigated had the properties of low initiation threshold; a primary explosive and extremely rapid transition to a detonation. Current compositions that perform this function are either mercury- or lead-based. Alternatively, DAHA is a material recently synthesized as a primary explosive to be used in munitions. This novel compound has the impact, friction, and electrostatic properties of a strong primary explosive. Preliminary tests on DAHA have shown practical application in large caliber ammunition, but it previously was untested in medium caliber munitions.


Sequential testing of DAHA as an initiating element and DDT material was accomplished. Sufficient DAHA material was synthesized to assemble several detonators for testing. The DAHA material successfully initiated when it was placed on the bridgewire mechanism and the applicable current was applied. Three detonator charge configurations resulted in complete detonation transition.


The development of environmentally friendly detonators will reduce range contamination; mitigate the long-term exposure effects on plants, wildlife, and water systems; and drastically curtail the use of toxic materials at the various 20- to 60-millimeter manufacturing facilities. It will also result in reduced exposure of both user and production personnel to harmful levels of contaminants and combustion products that occur in the material handling during production, test, and operational use of medium caliber detonators. (Project Completed - 2004)