Inproved Synthesis Process for CL-20
Navy SBIR FY2014.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2014.1
Topic No.: N141-017
Topic Title: Inproved Synthesis Process for CL-20
Proposal No.: N141-017-0636
Firm: TDA Research, Inc.
12345 W. 52nd Ave.
Wheat Ridge, Colorado 80033-1916
Contact: Robert Bolskar
Phone: (303) 940-2329
Web Site:
Abstract: TDA Research, Inc. (TDA) proposes a new route for the chemical synthesis of the explosive compound CL-20. CL-20, which is an acronym for 2,4,6,8,10,12-hexanitro-2,4,6,8,10,12-hexaazaisowurtzitane, is an oxidizing explosive nitramine molecule that has higher energy density than the widely used explosives RDX and HMX. This and other properties make CL-20 highly sought after for use in explosive and propellant applications. However, because of its difficult multi-step synthesis it is too expensive for general military use. Therefore, the Navy seeks an improved chemical synthetic route to CL-20 in order to reduce the cost and environmental impact of its production. Our process will offer multiple benefits as compared to the standard CL-20 production processes. Our process will eliminate the need for both benzylamine as a precursor and expensive precious metal catalysts such as palladium and platinum. TDA's new synthesis process will produce CL-20 in fewer steps than current routes and will be scalable. This will satisfy the Navy's need for an improved, economical, and environmentally acceptable CL-20 production route. In Phase I we will demonstrate proof-of-concept for our methods with full spectroscopic characterization of the precursors and products. Phase II will include laboratory scale-up, process engineering, and economic analysis of the process. Commercialization will be conducted in partnership with an established explosive manufacturer so that CL-20 can become available for use in military and aerospace applications.
Benefits: The proposed research and development project will increase the availability of CL-20, and the main beneficiaries will be the DoD agencies seeking this powerful explosive for use in ordinance and weapons systems. Our efficient reaction scheme is highly attractive from a cost, safety and environmental point of view. The US market for explosives is several million metric tons per year, and the manufacturing scale-up of CL-20 will be conducted in collaboration with a commercial partner currently involved in explosives manufacture. Besides the military applications, CL-20 is expected to have commercial applications in other areas, such as in aerospace propellants.