Facts: Static Detonation Chamber

The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant safely destroyed the chemical weapons stockpile stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot. Technology known as neutralization followed by biotreatment was used to destroy the majority of projectiles containing mustard agent. Three Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) units, each consisting of two components, the detonation chamber and the off-gas treatment system (OTS), augmented the main plant by destroying 4.2-inch mortar rounds. The SDCs also eliminated remaining overpacked 105mm and 155mm projectiles, which were deemed unsuitable for processing in the main plant.

The Department of Defense’s Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives was responsible for completing stockpile destruction operations by the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty commitment of Sept. 30, 2023.

What is the Static Detonation Chamber?

An SDC uses thermal destruction methods to destroy munitions. An SDC is a nearly spherical, armored, high-alloy stainless steel vessel. The electrically heated containment vessel detonates the munition to destroy the agent and munitions components.

How did it work?

Chemical agent-filled munitions were placed in a carrier, conveyed to the top of the SDC vessel and fed into the heated detonation chamber. High temperature (approximately 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit or 600 degrees Celsius) detonated or deflagrated the munition, and the chemical agent was destroyed by thermal decomposition.

Gases generated from the detonation or deflagration were treated by an OTS that included a thermal oxidizer that converted carbon monoxide and hydrogen to carbon dioxide, water and acid gases (hydrochloric and sulfuric). Gases from the thermal oxidizer were cooled and filtered to remove contaminants. The SDC produced minimal liquid waste. Scrap metal removed from the vessel may be recycled. Salts from the OTS were treated and disposed of in accordance with state and federal law.

Image of SDC steps.
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