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Energetic Materials (EM)

Future ordnance systems must be adaptable in size to fit a family of delivery systems, contain sufficient energy to defeat the target, have the capability to fly further and faster, while being insensitive munition (IM) compliant and affordable. The Energetic Materials (EM) program explores materials/synthetic chemistry, advanced dynamic diagnostics and theoretical/computational/predictive approaches to provide novel energetic material concepts (explosives, propellants, reactive materials) that maximize molecular and formulation energy densities, synthesis efficiencies and predicted properties to achieve performance goals. These goals include delivering maximum energy in compact volumes, significantly extending weapon range, and improving resistance to unintended catastrophic failure in stressful environments.

EM is the pillar which establishes future advanced warhead and solid rocket motor performance and characteristics, and considered with associated weapon systems can be "game changers" by increasing warfighters’ lethality and area of dominance. Advanced warhead development provides catastrophic damage, improving battlefield damage assessment and reducing sorties while equally powerful, but smaller weapons optimize internal carry and facilitate higher weapon load outs. Similarly, improved propellant ingredients and design concepts provide reduced time to target and extended ranges needed in volume limited ordnance systems.

Research Concentration Areas

The broad thrust areas within the EM program include high performance (rocket) propulsion where current needs include improved control over energy release and the ability to use energy more efficiently, and explosives development where the desire is to provide greater lethality in smaller form factors and couple energy output to targets more effectively. These thrusts require fundamental understanding and combined efforts in the current EM program research concentrations areas:

  1. New energetic ingredients/materials
  2. Advanced dynamic diagnostics
  3. Modeling/simulation for properties prediction and energetic material performance

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Develop new classes of ingredients to enable substantially higher performance ordnance with acceptable insensitivity characteristics (i.e., high-energy density oxidizers that can surpass the oxygen content and overall performance of ammonium perchlorate; novel fuels and reactive materials; and new binder systems that will improve formulation properties (i.e., higher solids loading, higher energy output and IM enhancements) and facilitate emerging formulation/manufacturing techniques
  • Development of macroscopic mechanical and chemical models and advanced diagnostic techniques to establish the connectivity between molecular structure, crystal morphology prediction and synthesis chemistry; establish methodologies to model, measure and predict molecular and crystal energetic material response to external shock and thermal loading; and provide an understanding of molecular and reaction dynamics and material strength/reactivity correlations related to energetic ingredients and composites
  • Consistent processing and performance results; process research and development (including "scale-up" and new formulation technologies); areas of concern are critical thermal management/safety, batch to batch reproducibility, standardized process for the chemistry, and conditions and product quality and purity assurance
  • Insensitive Munitions: The Navy has concerns over conventional munitions and propellant systems, since all munitions are stored on maritime platforms. It is critical that conventional munitions display maximum insensitivity when stowed, handled, carried or otherwise exposed to friendly forces and environments, but have sufficient energy/lethality to perform mission expectations reliably

How to Submit

For detailed application and submission information for this research topic, please refer to our broad agency announcement (BAA) No. N00014-22-S-B001.

Contracts: All white papers and full proposals for contracts must be submitted through FedConnect; instructions are included in the BAA.

Grants: All white papers for grants must be submitted through FedConnect, and full proposals for grants must be submitted through; instructions are included in the BAA.


Stoltz, Chad Dr.
Energetic Materials Program Officer
Code 351