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Centre for Defence Chemistry

Centre for Defence Chemistry

The Centre for Defence Chemistry is the focus for the chemical sciences at Cranfield. We provide a comprehensive range of analytical facilities for the analysis and characterisation of a wide range of materials including explosives, fuels, polymers, radioactive materials, metals and non-metals. In addition, we have well equipped chemical laboratories where new materials can be synthesised. 

Our contribution is particularly strong in the teaching of chemical sciences on a wide range of courses that encompass:

  • Explosives science and technologies.
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN).
  • Fuel science.
  • Forensic engineering and science.

Our staff are from a variety of backgrounds including academia, industry, research and government establishments. They offer a broad range of expertise and experience in their teaching, research and consultancy activities. As acknowledged experts in their field they are frequently approached by government, commercial and media organisations for assistance and advice.


  • Our impact and facilities

  • Our people

    • Name: Professor Jackie Akhavan
      Job Title: Professor of Explosive Chemistry
      Areas of expertise:
      Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions, Defence Test and Evaluation, Counter IED
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    • Name: Mr Mark Carpenter
      Job Title: Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Energy, Conventional and Advanced fuels, Manufacturing, Composites, Defence and Security, Fuels, Additional Area, Structures and Materials
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    • Name: Mr Jim Clements
      Job Title: Senior Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions, Additional Area, Instrumentation, Sensors and Measurement Science
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    • Name: Dr Alex Contini
      Job Title: Senior Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence
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    • Name: Dr Licia Dossi
      Job Title: Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Health, Smart Materials, Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions, Additional Area, Structures and Materials
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    • Name: Dr Mike Williams
      Job Title: Senior Lecturer
      Areas of expertise:
      Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence
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    • Name: Dr Xiao Fang
      Job Title: Senior Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence
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    • Name: Ms Sally Gaulter
      Job Title: Senior Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Manufacturing, Composites, Casting Technologies, Defence Manufacturing, Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions, Defence Test and Evaluation
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    • Name: Dr Philip Gill
      Job Title: Lecturer
      Areas of expertise:
      Manufacturing, Defence Manufacturing, Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions, Defence Test and Evaluation, Additional Area, Safety, Resilience, Risk and Reliability, Instrumentation, Sensors and Measurement Science, Forensic Science
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    • Name: Dr Guillaume Kister
      Job Title: Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Manufacturing, Composites, Sensor Technologies
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    • Name: Dr Ernst-Christian Koch
      Job Title: Senior Lecturer in Defence Chemistry
      Areas of expertise:
      Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions, Counter IED
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    • Name: Dr Daniel McAteer
      Job Title: Organic Chemist
      Areas of expertise:
      Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions
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    • Name: Dr James Padfield
      Job Title: Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions
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    • Name: Mr Christopher Stennett
      Job Title: Group Leader - Explosives Science Group
      Areas of expertise:
      Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions, Defence Test and Evaluation, Counter IED
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    • Name: Mrs Tracey Temple
      Job Title: Lecturer in Environmental Science
      Areas of expertise:
      Defence and Security, Explosives and Munitions
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    • Name: Dr Colleen Williams
      Job Title: Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Health, Health Risks from Hazardous Substances, Defence and Security, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence, Fuels
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  • Postgraduate degrees

    • Explosives Ordnance Engineering

      Provides an advanced academic background to enable students to effectively approach demanding technical projects in the field of explosives and explosives ordnance engineering

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  • Professional Development (CPD)

    • Rocket Motors and Propellants

      Please enquire for course dates.

      The aim of the course is to develop an understanding of the principles of rocket motors, propulsion and rocket propellant composition and performance.

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    • Environmental Awareness and Compliance in Defence

      04 November - 05 November 2014,
      20 May - 21 May 2014,
      20 January - 21 January 2015

      This course has been introduced to raise awareness of environmental issues, with a primary focus within the Defence sector and the acquisition process.

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    • Environmental Management - Project Oriented Environmental Management Systems (POEMS)

      02 June - 06 June 2014,
      17 November - 21 November 2014,
      01 June - 05 June 2015,
      Additional dates available.

      This course is aimed at personnel who are required to implement POEMS in their Project Team.

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    • Explosives - Introduction

      09 June - 13 June 2014,
      15 September - 19 September 2014

      To provide a wide understanding of explosives and their effects.

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    • Ordnance, Munitions and Explosives - Intermediate

      16 June - 25 June 2014,
      13 October - 22 October 2014

      Designed for those responsible for managing activities involving Ordnance, Munitions and Explosives (OME). Provides an overview of both the nature and properties of OME and the regulatory controls.

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    • Sustainable Development in Defence Acquisition

      17 June - 18 June 2014,
      02 December - 03 December 2014

      This course has been developed to assist with the MOD's commitment to deliver sustainable development in defence acquisition

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    • Testing and Evaluation of Explosives

      Please enquire for course dates.

      In-depth analysis of use of explosive testing equipment, analysis of resultant data, testing procedures and UK/NATO legislation.

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    • Rocket Motors and Propellants

      Please enquire for course dates.

      The aim of the course is to develop an understanding of the principles of rocket motors, propulsion and rocket propellant composition and performance.

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    • Pyrotechnics

      Please enquire for course dates.

      The course covers the basic considerations of the design of pyrotechnic compositions and military pyrotechnic munitions.

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    • Gun Propellants, Internal Ballistics and Weapon Thermodynamics

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This course develops an understanding of propellant properties and function, internal ballistics, thermodynamics and heat transfer in conventional guns.

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    • Explosives for Nuclear Weapons

      Please enquire for course dates.

      Exposure to energetics within nuclear weapons including delivery systems. Focus on determination of life expectancy. Course delivered by lectures.

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    • Insensitive Munitions

      Please enquire for course dates.

      The course introduces students to particular aspects of munition design and other aspects that allow the insensitive tag to be applied.

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    • Ammunition Technicians

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This course is for non-commissioned ranks and soldiers of the Royal Logistic Corps. Students may include similar ranks from NATO and Commonwealth countries.

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    • Petroleum Chemistry and Technology

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This course provides a basic scientific and technological understanding of the production and behaviour of petroleum based fuels and lubricants.

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    • Explosives and the Environment

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This course highlights the effects explosives have on our environment and the mitigation measures which can be used to reduce the overall impact.

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    • Explosives I - Introduction

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This section describes the various types of explosion and details the key differences between propellants and explosives

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    • Explosives II - Introduction

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This distance learning course explains the burning and detonation process in propellants and explosives.

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    • Computer Modelling Tools in Explosives Ordnance Engineering

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This course explores tools for explosives modelling including Hydrocodes, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Molecular Dynamics and Computer Graphics.

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    • Underwater Explosions (UNDEX) and Design for Shock - Introduction

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This course considers underwater explosions, their effects on structures, means of mitigation, and the design requirements for equipment to resist shock.

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    • Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Capability

      Please enquire for course dates.

      This course is designed to provide military and civilian MOD staff and approved industry personnel with knowledge on the development, use and counter measures associated with IED's

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