By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Design
Innovative High-Density Reactive Material can increase a standard weapon's explosive force by a factor of five.
If the military has it's way, missiles, grenades and other military weaponry may soon deliver an even more lethal blow.
That's because a new material dubbed High-Density Reactive Material, developed by the Office of Naval Research, can be combined with other explosive ingredients to increase a standard weapon's explosive force by a factor of five. The material, a mixture of several metals, is designed to replace conventional steel casings with little or no compromise in strength or stability.
Manufacturers typically used steel because it provided superior structural rigidity, holding an explosive together until the weapon reached the intended target -- though it did little else to improve the destructive effectiveness of the warhead. While that isn't necessarily a problem, the Navy's latest advancement represents an entirely novel approach in which the shell can also be detonated to release chemical energy after impact, an added function that increases the likelihood of a catastrophic kill.
Here's a brief explanation from io9 of how the new technology works:
Instead of solid steel, these new missiles will have shells made out of a combination of metals. Also mixed in is an oxidizing agent. Oxidizing agents help aid combustion, usually by giving oxygen over to the combusting material. When an ordinary missile hits the target, the energy in the steel shell doesn't go into the explosion. Instead, it's scattered as shrapnel around the area of the explosion. When this combination of oxidizers and metals hits a target, the materials are combined by the force of the explosion, and they explode themselves. This makes for a bigger localized explosion, but doesn't send pieces of steel flying over the area. The navy believes that this change will lead to a smaller amount of bystander deaths.
Naval researchers tested the material during a firing exercise at the Army's Blossom Point Field Test Facility in Maryland at the end of June and around mid-August. Next up is a large-scale demonstration against multiple stationary targets is tentatively planned for September.
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Aug 31, 2011
These will actually be less likely to kill "innocent" people due to the fact that the shell casing isn't turned into shrapnel which travels a lot farther than the explosion. Less shrapnel means that it's more likely the people targetted will be the only ones killed by the explosion.
HDRM will likely be much more expensive than ordinary steel or even the lightweight alloys used for some projectiles. So it will probably only be used when its unique properties confer an advantage. That will be when you want the greatest possible explosive yield at a given weight. So ordinary grenades, bombs & missiles are out because they don't have heavy casings to begin with. 1 use will be ammunition for relatively small caliber guns, say 20 mm through 76 mm. Another will be artillery shells, missiles & bombs designed to penetrate inside fortifications before exploding.
You live the free life and don't want to look under the cover of protection the the military gives you, that is fine but don't then complain when they try to build better tools to protect you. In the end the better you army is equiped the lower the likly hood of someon attacking you. Also the better you are able to deal with any attack and end the conflict before it degrades into a total war with attacks on civilian targets.
If this really does amplify the explosion by a factor of 5 you could be talking about a major shift in weapon design. On the surface you could simply increase the explosive yield on today???s munitions, but the long-term impact could be huge on weapons design. But first the big question. How much does a missile casing made with this material weigh compared to one made with steel? It does little good to increase the explosive yield on a weapon if the trade off is shorter range because it is heavier. If it is break even on weight compared to steel or even lighter you are looking at a game changer. HE (high explosive) grenades could be smaller with the same yield making them lighter for troops to carry. Ground to ground missiles could maintain the same yield but gain range as explosive is traded for fuel. Air to ground missiles could be redesigned to have the same punch and range in a smaller package which better fits with stealthy designs like the F22 Raptor.
We have enough destructive power all over the world already, what nuthead had to go and invent that. It will ultimately only kill innocent people, just as every other weapon. I hope the inventors blow themselves and their ideas up so there can be some more peace on earth again.
I imagine one of the metals used in these shells is depleted uranium. I question the morality of using that in any weapon.
@BrewmanNH: You mean they will say "let's kill that one, and that one, not that one..." The point of weapons is to kill and injure as many people as possible. It's extremely unlikely that they will make a 5 times more effective explosive and then think "Let's decrease the shrapnel to one fifth to give those we bomb a fair chance". There has never been given any "fair chance" in any war, and the wars America is involving itself with nowadays are not even real wars, they are cowardly attacs from far away against defenseless people. Where are all the smartbombs that only blow up defined targets? They are only used for a few mediacoverings, because they are too expensive to use for anything else. @CharlesG1970: No, I don't get any protection from America, in fact, America once told my country to surrender unconditionally to Russia. We didn't, and fought alone against Russia and kept our independence. America has never dared fight Russia, despite that America is 60 times larger than my country. We dared. So don't strut there all bigheaded when You haven't done even half what we have.
My life in America is not free. The military protects us from the enemies our leaders make, and finances this protection with its hands in our wallets. This is a protection racket, and it is breaking us. My wallet is running on empty. War is obsolete. It's time to make peace, not war.
Why would you imagine they are using depleted uranium. In fact they are likly not as DU is very unreeactive. DU is used in tank shells not to explode, but due to the high density and ability to transfer kinetic energy into the target. also in tank Armour for its abiluty to absorb kinetic enerty Also there is relativly low rediation from DU, it is what is left over once the reactive part of uranium is removed.
Not So, an event is either letal to an indivdual or not lethal, but weapons are rated on their lethality, likly hood of causing a lethal event at certain ranges, a grenad is hightly lethal at 10', less so to 30', and limited beyond 30'. From the article it sounds like this will increase the lethality out to the 30' range and probaly then lower the lethality beyond 30' A very desirable effect in that the thrower is likly outside the 30' range but the people being attacked my be out of the 10' but in the 30'
Reading about improvements in the technology of killing is not comfortable or pleasant, but weapons development is not going to stop in the world anytime soon. And although USA (and UK) foreign policy is not very nice, I'd much rather our American friends had the best weapons tech, than most of the other countries in the world. As for wishing death on the engineers who invented this - people who are not killers or warmongers, but technicians doing a job - I hope you have a good look at yourself and question how peaceful a person you really are.
Adagio..... when the rest of the world... ALL nations and those in power, decide to give Peace a chance, that will be the day. However, it is in human nature to covent what another has and try to take it from them. This also includes ideologies and matters of belief. Until ALL individuals decide it is best to stop all violence, hate, greed and aggresive ideologies, there will always be a need to defend one self. This applies all the way from the school grounds to the Green Zone and all centers of Gov't.
DU does ignite on contact, this is why the U.S. military perfers it to tungsten as the Canadian military use which is more dense but does not ignite. In WW2 they used Magnesium tipped ammo for the same reason so it could be that. DU is more radio active than Uranium. This is what they refine Plutonium from. Widespread contamination was recorded in the first Iraq war.
Uranium is about the highest density material available. That was admittedly an assumption on my part but I don't imagine all of the mixture of metals needs to be to be reactive and DU would enhance the density. I realize that DU is relatively lower in radiation, only 60% that of natural uranium. It has an enhanced level of U-238. But beyond its radioactivity uranium is also a toxic metal. I imagine over the next couple of decades we'll be getting better data on the health effects of DU out of Iraq which has seen a lot of DU weapons expended.
Depleted uranium is the uranium left over after they've extracted the U-235 for nuclear power fuel and bombs. It has a higher ratio of U-238 which has a half-life of 4.5 billion years (U-235's half-life is 700 million years). As such DU is a bit less radioactive than natural uranium. Plutonium is practically non-existent in the natural world and is produced as a by-product of a U-235 reactor. As I said, there is widespread contamination of depleted uranium in areas of Iraq.