The synthesis facility provides a unique location for the development of new energetic compositions. Staff within the facility can provide expertise in synthesis, analysis and characterisation, together with formulating, small-scale manufacturing, and testing and evaluation.

The synthesis of energetic materials, including low and high molecular weight compounds, take place in a modern, freshly refurbished and well-equipped laboratory which provides for every stage of compound development. A 400MHz Bruker NMR facility is operated by the Synthesis Group and is capable of running most experiments of interest to the research chemist.

Curing and compatibility studies can be carried out on new energetic compounds with a view to formulating explosive compositions (i.e. PBXs).  

Summary of applications

The facility can synthesise and deliver variable amounts of highly pure explosive compounds for teaching purposes, forensic studies and related work, and commercial contracts to clients as AWE, DSTL, Home Office, European Commission etc.

Examples of activities undertaken in the synthesis facility are:

  • Synthesis and formulation of novel energetic compounds;
  • Synthesis of energetic polyphosphazenes;
  • Curing of energetic polymers and their formulations;
  • Calorimetric studies on energetic materials;
  • Bespoke synthesis of high purity nitrate esters;
  • Development of ‘flow’ nitration reactions;
  • Development of ‘green’ curing methodologies for IM PBXs;
  • Preparation of a wide range pyrotechnic mixtures for research and demonstration;
  • Development of intelligent-smart formulations for IM;
  • Aging of energetic and pyrotechnic compositions;
  • Degradation of energetic formulations;
  • Compatibility studies;
  • Synthesis and characterisation of organic ‘improvised’ explosives;
  • Detection of explosives, illicit drugs and their precursors;
  • Teaching courses (MSc, short courses);
  • NMR characterisation of chemical samples (low and high molecular weight);
  • High pressure catalytic hydrogenations;
  • Remote synthesis of dangerous materials;
  • The development of new routes to established secondary explosives.

Key facts

  • A unique service for the development of new energetic compositions;
  • The ability to synthesise and deliver small amounts of highly pure explosive compounds;
  • Custom synthesis of 10-100g quantities of organic chemicals;
  • A unique service for the use of energetics on detection systems;
  • NMR facilities.