The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) will use the Munitions Treatment Unit (MTU) to eliminate residual chemical agent from munitions, employing a heating technique similar to baking a pizza.
“The MTU is essentially a large pizza oven, about 80 feet long,” said Kent Ladd, training specialist. “After a thorough washing, the munitions spend about an hour on a moving belt, being heated up to a temperature sufficient to decontaminate any organics that may be left in the munition.”
During the destruction process, energetic-free munitions are first drained and rinsed by Cavity Access Machines (CAM) before the munition bodies are sent to the MTU to complete decontamination.
The drained munitions are fed to the MTUs by robots, where they are heated to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 minutes. To ensure the munitions are agent-free, each one is weighed, said Art Shinn, training specialist, PCAPP.
“We are looking for no more than five percent of total agent weight. For example, the weight of agent in a 155mm projectile before being processed is 11.7 pounds so if it weighs more than .59 pounds, the projectile is sent back to the CAM for processing,” said Shinn.
As decontaminated munitions exit the cooling section of the MTU, dislodged paint dust and flakes are air blasted and vacuumed away. This takes place in the Paint Residue Removal System, where a rotary discharge valve loads, cleans and then unloads munitions, one at a time, said Shinn.
Finally, gases from the MTU are discharged to the Off-gas Treatment System (OTS). Any gaseous byproduct from the MTU is drawn to the OTS where it is decontaminated, Ladd said.
The decontaminated munition bodies are deposited into containers to await off-site shipment for recycling.