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Destroying Chemical Weapons: US Army Reviews Technology


09-Feb-2010 11:50 EST

To destroy chemical weapons, the US Army can’t just throw them in an incinerator. They have to be destroyed carefully so that no harmful chemicals are released into the air or water supplies.

In 2009, the US Army, working with the National Research Council (NRC), tested 4 technologies – 3 private-vendor systems and 1 Army-developed explosive destruction system (EDS) – to destroy chemical weapons. Tests were conducted at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky and the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado.

The developers of one of the systems tested – US-based Versar and Japan’s Kobe Steel – announced [pdf] Feb 9/10 that they received a $13 million subcontract from URS Corp. to deliver their Detonation in a Vacuum Assisted Chamber (DAVINCH) system to the Deseret Chemical Depot in Tooele, UT for chemical weapons destruction. In addition to supplying the system, Versar will provide project management at the depot.

The Army testing revealed some interesting facts about the DAVINCH system…

The 3 private-vendor systems tested by Army and the NRC were the DAVINCH system developed by Kobe Steel and Versar, the transportable detonation chamber T-60 model supplied by US-based CH2M Hill, and the static detonation chamber SDC2000 model from Sweden’s Dynasafe.

A report prepared on the testing by the Board on Army Science and Technology describes how each system works:

For destruction of 155-mm mustard gas munitions, the report determined that the DAVINCH and SDC2000 were the most effective. For destruction of M55 rocket motors, the report found that the T-60 was most effective.