The first of two phases of trial burn testing began at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant Static Detonation Chamber complex Oct. 28.
“We’re excited to get started,” said Andy Shaffer, SDC test coordinator. “As the tests progress, we will collect a wide variety of data to demonstrate that systems are effective and safe.”
The first phase of trial burn testing follows a lengthy process.
SDC technology was proposed in 2018 to process 4.2-inch mortar rounds and other problematic projectiles, both of which were unsuitable for processing using the plant’s automated technology. Construction of three SDC units ended in summer 2020 and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued the operational permit authorizing trial burns on Oct. 7, 2021.
“It’s been a long time coming and we’re very excited to begin,” said Troy Wortham, SDC plant manager. “We’ve been through construction, systemization and worker training, and our crews are really happy to actually send something into the chamber.”
During the first day of trial burn testing, cardboard boxes containing empty inert projectiles, referred to as ACWA Test Equipment or ATE, were sent on a conveyor into a Static Detonation Chamber vessel. The boxed ATE was destroyed by heating it to a temperature of approximately 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, testing the system’s impact on munition bodies. It’s the first of several iterations of testing that will take place throughout an approximately 10-week period.
“We began the initial verification activities associated with phase one of the non-agent trial burn,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, PCAPP. “The testing provides us with key information so we can safely introduce agent into the SDC units.”
SDC testing involves two phases. In addition to ATE testing, the first phase will also include surrogate trial burn tests using non-agent chemicals as well as conventional munitions. Phase two of testing will evaluate the system’s ability to destroy agent-filled munitions once state regulators have given approval to the phase one trial burn report.