BAE Energetic Materials Team
I joined BAE Systems in 2016 as a Graduate Engineer, having graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. During the graduate scheme, I gained experience in the Process Engineering, LOVA propellant, Large Calibre, and Energetic Materials teams. Since finishing the scheme in 2018 I have been a full time member within the Energetic Materials team. A large portion of my work has been with both the Process Engineering and Energetic Materials teams looking at the scale-up of Resonant Acoustic Mixing (RAM), to take the Glascoed site from lab-scale RAM to using the larger RAM technology for production-scale mixing.
Resonant Acoustic Mixing (RAM) technology is attracting growing attention as an alternative and improved processing method for energetic materials. This presentation describes studies that BAE Systems Land UK has carried out on the future uses of RAM technology for large-scale munition production.
RAM technology transfers acoustic wave energy to mechanical movement under resonant conditions. The vibration action created can be used to complete various processes, not limited to coating, sieving, and mixing of materials.
Current manufacturing methods within the energetics field can involve large amounts of solvents, long processing times, high waste output, high shear moving parts, and have single large batch limitations. Investigations into the manufacturing of energetic materials via RAM technology have highlighted many potential advantages. These include the shorter processing times, improved mix homogeneity, reduced waste output due to flexibility of load/batch size, and the absence of moving parts (a potential ignition source). In addition, RAM can process higher viscosity products, giving opportunities for the development of new families of energetics.
Land UK has been investigating the ability of RAM to process a range of different energetic materials. These studies have involved processing energetic materials using Resodyn’s LabRAM and LabRAM II to find suitable manufacturing parameters, then carrying out material analyses to verify material quality.
The focus of the current programme of work is to determine the future manufacturing capability for RAM; investigating the options for full-scale production of munitions. A theoretical study has been completed on multiple parameters associated with RAM scale-up, including production capacity, time savings, and waste reduction. From this analysis, a roadmap was created to highlight the most effective route to production using the different RAM Processing techniques.