Military obscurants exist as handheld devices (hand grenades) but are also frequently used in the form of mortar and artillery rounds. Handheld obscurants are today still important munitions for the protection of warfighters, allowing their concealment at frontlines. Besides the fact that these obscuration munitions pose a significant toxicity hazard to the user, the environmental impact of these munitions can also be significant (e.g., due to the use of hexachlorethane). The objective of this project is to investigate the technical feasibility of developing a new effective and environmentally benign obscurant, leveraging work conducted in SERDP project WP-2148.

Technical Approach

This project is a joint effort between TNO, the lead on SERDP project WP-2148, and the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center (ECBC), which will provide testing capabilities together with production capabilities for full-scale hand grenades. The project will use thermodynamic modeling software as it applies to pyrotechnic combustion problems and oxygen balance calculations to design new obscurant formulations. In addition, measurements will be made in a smoke box using low power visible lasers to determine the relative absorption of the smoke on a weight basis. Full-scale absolute extinction coefficients and figure of merit chamber data will be obtained before the conclusion of the effort, based on the best performing composition. This effort will also use the technical data derived from similar efforts at ECBC using other chloride containing salts to produce smoke clouds.


This work will demonstrate proof of concept for environmentally benign full-scale hand grenades. The grenades will be tested by ECBC according to the Figure of Merit used in the United States for obscurants. TNO will test the same full-scale hand grenades for toxicity according to ASTM standard E2552-08 with their CULTEX® equipment. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2016)