The objective of this project is to demonstrate DBX-1 as a drop-in replacement for RD-1333 lead azide that performs at least as well as RD-1333 in selected detonators and cartridge actuated devices and that is non-toxic to manufacturers and users, i.e., an environmentally benign material.

Technology Description

Copper(I) 5-nitrotetrazole (or DBX-1) has been demonstrated to be a 1:1 complex of 5-nitrotetrazole and Cu+, and the structure has been confirmed by single crystal X-ray analysis at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Preliminary testing of this material has confirmed that DBX-1 has chemical and safety properties similar to RD-1333 lead azide and output characteristics that are equal to or greater than RD-1333. A Naval Sea Systems Command Instruction 8020.5C material qualification program has recently been completed, which indicated that DBX-1 is extremely thermally stable and the sensitivity characteristics change very little over time. DBX-1 has shown that it may have the properties to be a drop-in replacement for lead azide in a variety of applications. The material is still manufactured on a small scale but is currently in the process of being scaled up to the quantities necessary to meet Department of Defense requirements.


Benefits of implementing DBX-1 as a lead azide alternative include environmental security, cost avoidance, and cost savings. Surveillance test efforts and other test range impacts should be lessened due to a switch to lead-free components, and the health hazards associated with manufacture and use of lead azide will be eliminated. Similarly, demilitarization and disposal cost savings should also be realized. Additionally, there is currently no qualified domestic production of lead azide, so establishing DBX-1 as a replacement could avoid the delays and costs associated with the projected obsolescence of lead azide. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2014)