Crystallization of Energetic Materials with Limited Solubility
Navy SBIR 2011.2 - Topic N112-129
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam -
Opens: May 26, 2011 - Closes: June 29, 2011

N112-129 TITLE: Crystallization of Energetic Materials with Limited Solubility

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Materials/Processes

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PEO IWS 3: Naval Gunnery (5-inch 155mm AGS), Standard Missile-6, ESSM

RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN CITIZENS (i.e., those holding non-U.S. Passports):  This topic is "ITAR Restricted."  The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 - 130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data.  Foreign Citizens may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the "Permanent Resident Card", or are designated as "Protected Individuals" as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign citizen who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal will be rejected.

OBJECTIVE: Develop enabling technologies that can be used to crystallize energetic materials with low solubility in industrial solvents into various desirable forms for use in propellant and explosives formulations. The technology developed should be applicable to a variety of materials as well as offer scalability and low-cost manufacturing options.

DESCRIPTION: Particle size and morphology of energetic materials are critical factors for processing as well as sensitivity and performance of energetic formulations. The ability to produce energetic materials in varying particle size and morphologies is critical to evaluating these properties in formulations. There is a need to develop technology that can produce quantities (multi-gram and multi-kilogram) of energetic materials in varying particle size and morphologies. This may be accomplished through models, technology development, and later combining these technologies to achieve these goals. For example, the ability to enhance solubility of materials can be modeled using minimal experimental data. This information can be combined with technologies such as sonocrystallization to yield desired particle size and morphology of a specific material.

PHASE I: Prepare a concept for a crystallizer for low solubility materials (i.e., low solubility would include materials such as Triaminotrinitrobenzene). The materials will be modeled to identify solubility and predicted morphologies. Conduct preliminary proof-of-concept experiments that successfully test and evaluate the conversion of low solubility materials of one particle size and morphology to a different particle size and morphology.

PHASE II: Configure a crystallization apparatus to assess the process (es) on various insoluble candidate materials. These materials will be selected based on Phase I results. The resulting materials will be provided as deliverable and made available for evaluation in formulations by the sponsoring activity. Up to 25 grams of each material will be made available. Phase II will include a conceptual design of a pilot scaled crystallizer capability of producing a desired material at a rate of 10 metric tons per year.

PHASE III: The technology will transition to PEO IWS 3 in Phase III based on the success of Phase II experiments. PEO IWS 3 has a number of programs (i.e., Naval gunnery, SM-6, ESSM) that would benefit from the use of these materials. Depending on the energetic material technology introduced and pursued, the transition could be any or all of the following: a propellant solution with missile rocket motor applicability; high explosive solution with blast fragmentation and/or shaped charge warhead applicability for both missiles and projectiles; or explosive with warhead booster applicability. The small business would participate in the transition of the technology by supporting the energetic requirements for production level application, which may include propellant and/or explosive mix procedures, loading and curing determination, and establishing performance parameters, as required.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The private sector (pharmaceuticals, agricultural materials, food processing) typically uses high shear wet milling as a unit operation to obtain final particle size or form. This unit operation is typically costly but does control the desired products’ particle size. If the proposed technology is developed appropriately, it could be transitioned for problematic materials in these industries where high shear wet milling is not applicable. Industry could also use this technology as a back-up to high shear wet milling or other mechanical grinding methods.

1. H. H. Cady and A. C. Larson, Acta Crystallogr., 1965, 18, 485.

2. Mullen, J.W. Crystallization, Fourth Edition.

3. Myerson, Handbook of Industrial Crystallization, 2nd Edition 2002.

KEYWORDS: crystallization, solubility, morphology, particle size, energetic, explosive

DoD Notice:  
Between April 26 and May 25, 2011, you may talk directly with the Topic Authors to ask technical questions about the topics. Their contact information is listed above. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is
not allowed starting May 26, 2011, when DoD begins accepting proposals for this solicitation.
However, proposers may still submit written questions about solicitation topics through the DoD's SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS), in which the questioner and respondent remain anonymous and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the solicitation closes. All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS (11.2 Q&A) during the solicitation period for questions and answers, and other significant information, relevant to the SBIR 11.2 topic under which they are proposing.

If you have general questions about DoD SBIR program, please contact the DoD SBIR Help Desk at (866) 724-7457 or email weblink.