There is a need to increase environmentally acceptable synthesis methods to scale-up environmentally sustainable, insensitive secondary explosives. Novel formulations utilizing the alternative materials to replace a vast number of military explosive compositions are considered necessary.

To optimize and scale-up a single synthesis process for diethylenetriamine trinitrate (DETN) and ethylenediamine dinitrate (EDDN) nitrate salts that are components of the eutectic based energetic viable alternative energetic DEMN. DEMN will be utilized in formulations for direct comparison to explosives such as (but not limited to) IMX-101, IMX-102, IMX-104, TNT, and PAX-21 to serve as an environmentally friendly replacement.

Technology Description

DEMN is a eutectic-based energetic that consists of DETN, EDDN, methyl nitroguanidine (MeNQ), and nitroguanidine (NQ). The energetic was developed by Dr. Brian Roos of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) as a melt-phase binder to serve in insensitive explosives fills to replace TNT and Comp B in munition systems. DEMN-based explosives have demonstrated energetic performance greater than TNT while also being more compliant to insensitive munition (IM) requirements in the M795 155mm projectile. Toxicology studies completed by the US Army Public Health Command Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) concluded that the DEMN salts are less toxic than TNT, and carcinogenicity and mutagenicity are less likely to occur. NQ and MeNQ also exhibit reduced toxic and environmental threats.

The two DEMN salts have been synthesized at the 100 lb scale with yields greater than 90%. The DETN and EDDN salts are synthesized in separate reactions prior to forming the eutectic to produce DEMN. The filtration procedure for the extraction of the salts is inefficient, and higher yields for both salts can be achieved if it is rectified. This effort will combine the two salt nitration reactions into a single optimized process with automated controls and will improve the filtration by eliminating the use of antisolvents or recycling the antisolvents in a closed-loop system. The single synthesis process will not only increase the yield of the salts, but also decrease the cost associated with the process and the amount of chemical waste produced. MeNQ is currently being produced under different programs. Bulk NQ is readily available for purchase.

After the optimization of the single salt reaction, the process will be transitioned to a contract facility for scale-up and the production of 1500 lb of DEMN. The transition will be accompanied by a demonstration plan and toxicology and environmental report on DEMN. The DEMN produced will be utilized in formulations for direct comparison to explosives currently fielded in munitions that are IM-deficient and have adverse environmental effects.


DEMN formulations have benefits such as improved IM properties, reduction of toxic and environmental hazards, and lower costs to the program managers as DEMN is expected to be more affordable than current HE fills. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2015)