Unexploded bomb defused using the laser: successful field trial at the end of the project
The deflagration attempt on the blast site went according to plan: instead of a large detonation, the chemical detonator popped out of the 500-pound bomb, the shell exploded along the predetermined notch and only a very small part of the explosive exploded. Thus, the end of the joint project of the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), LASER on Demand GmbH and the Kampfmittelräumdienst Hamburg (KRD) is more than successful. The laser-based approach could provide more security for explosive ordnance disposal technicians in the future.
Laser-based deflagration: field-compatible and automated
The scientists at the LZH developed the process for automated deflagration in the DEFLAG project. In the first step, a notch is inserted into the bomb casing using a solid-state laser with two kilowatts of power. Thereafter, in the second step, the explosive is deflagrated in a controlled way. As the system technology is exposed to strong heat and pressure, the LZH and its spin-off company LASER on Demand GmbH have developed a low-cost, 3D-printed laser processing head with standard optical components. The handling of the ordnance and of the explosives in the field trials as well as the final field trial with the 500-pound bomb were carried out by the staff of the Kampfmittelräumdienst Hamburg.
Next step: Underwater use
These promising results are now the basis for further research projects in order to be able to use the procedure as soon as possible. In addition, the partners want to adapt the process and the system technology for underwater use. For more than 1.5 million tons of World War II ammunition is still suspected in the North and Baltic Seas.
About the project
The DEFLAG project „Safe Deflagration of Duds by Laser Technology“ is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the scope of the Federal Administrations „Research for Civil Security 2012-2017“ program. The Kampfmittelräumdienst Hamburg is an Associated Partner.
There are three figures and one video for this press release.