A new Centre of Excellence in Energetic Materials (CoEEM) has been established with the aim of delivering a UK national capability in explosives and energetic materials.

Led by the UK Government, CoEEM aims to collaborate with UK-wide organisations and academic centres to deliver coordinated research, training, test and evaluation services and act as a forum for knowledge exchange.

It will also provide technical leadership, guidance and advice on programme formulation, direction, content and investment decisions with support and engagement from the wider energetics materials community.

The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Defence Ordnance Safety Group (DOSG), a subgroup of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), and Cranfield University are facilitating the project.

Kevin Wagstaff, Head of the Counter Terrorist and Security Division, Dstl said: “Energetics materials research, development and manufacture are key capabilities for the UK.

“A new strategy and technical plan are required to maintain and sustain the UK’s energetics capability. Developing and delivering this plan will require the disparate elements of the community to come together.”

CoEEM aims to achieve this by pulling together and championing essential national capability around a ‘virtual’ organisation hosted by Cranfield University.

The benefits of this approach will be seen through establishing a critical mass of expertise, with CoEEM providing the next generation of experts in the UK energetics field.

The Centre will also facilitate individual career development, drive collaboration—including leveraging relationships within and beyond government, as well as exploit cost efficiencies and help coordinate funding for capabilities and research.

Hugh Bellars, Head of Weapons Engineering at DE&S, said: “DE&S’ ability to acquire and support weapons in a safe, professional and efficient manner is underpinned by deep specialist expertise in our project teams and the Defence Ordnance Safety Group. Our experts require the highest level of energetic materials competence, which can only be gained through practical experience.

“To do this, our organisations are coming together to plan and deliver a joined up programme focused on our mutual needs for expertise and knowledge of energetic materials.”

Malcolm Cook, AWE and CoEEM Technical Director, said: “The intention is to grow CoEEM organically, beginning with firm foundations based on priorities identified by government. We will build on existing capabilities, planned investments, academic outreach and industrial partnerships.

“We are starting to build links with other UK activities aimed at sustaining capability. CoEEM is ‘the glue’ that will bind these together into one coherent capability.”

Simon Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of Cranfield Defence and Security said: “I’m delighted that Cranfield’s unique set of capabilities, expertise and facilities are able to support this vital national centre of excellence. CoEEM will play a key role in strengthening the UK’s explosives and energetic materials capabilities.

“Cranfield, through our strategic relationships and collaborations with the defence industry and academia, as well as Government, make the University ideally placed to offer our support to this important venture.”

Specific capability areas and themes that CoEEM will focus on include formulations and manufacturing, detection, synthesis, detonics, hazard testing for pyrotechnics, propellants, explosives and improvised formulations.

Next steps in the development of CoEEM include building maps of capabilities, expertise and facilities. This will be via a dedicated CoEEM website that will also host a knowledge store comprising access to journals, books, webinars and other information. By this means CoEEM aims to help gather information about where the current and future experts are likely to come from across the UK and assist in training them.

Notes for editors

Cranfield University will serve as the administrator and organiser of CoEEM, along with providing support in other areas. A dedicated CoEEM website will be going live in October to aid this process, which you can visit here and register as a member on. Membership is currently only available to employees of UK organisations however collaboration internationally is envisaged.

About Dstl

  • The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) works to apply cutting-edge science and technology (S&T) to keep UK Armed Forces, and the British people, protected from harm.
  • Dstl is an Executive Agency of the MOD, run along commercial lines. It is one of the principal government organisations dedicated to S&T in the defence and security field, with four sites; at Porton Down, near Salisbury, Portsdown West, near Portsmouth, Fort Halstead, near Sevenoaks and Alverstoke near Gosport.
  • Dstl works with a wide range of partners and suppliers in industry, in academia and overseas

About AWE

  • The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) plays a crucial role in the defence of the United Kingdom by providing and maintaining the country’s nuclear deterrent. It also has a key role in supporting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), counter terrorism and the country’s national nuclear security. It is a centre of scientific and technical excellence with some of the most advanced research, design and production facilities in the world.
  • AWE works under contract to the Ministry of Defence through a government-owned-contractor-operated (GOCO) arrangement. AWE Management Limited, comprising three shareholders (Jacobs Engineering Group, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Serco Group) has operated the contract since 2000.
  • AWE employs around 4,500 staff at two main locations in Berkshire (AWE Aldermaston and AWE Burghfield) and at two further facilities at Blacknest and Coulport.

About DE&S

  • Defence, Equipment and Support is the procurement organisation for the Ministry of Defence, managing a vast range of projects to buy and support all the equipment and services that the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force need to operate effectively on land, sea and air.
  • DE&S is a bespoke trading entity and arm’s length body of the Ministry of Defence and works hand in hand with the Defence industry in the UK and abroad through contracts, partnering agreements and private finance initiatives.
  • We employ around 12,000 civil servants and military personnel at 150 locations across the UK and overseas.
  • Our priority is providing the right equipment to the armed forces and supporting it, whilst delivering better value for money to the taxpayer

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is an exclusively postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.