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Matthew Didsbury

Polymer Explosives Scientist

Matt Didsbury Ph.D. CChem joined BAE Systems Land UK as a Polymer Explosive scientist and has spent the last 5 years performing studies and investigations on the processing and chemistry of a wide range of different energetic materials. He has also been involved in the development and implementation of new technologies. Prior to joining BAE Systems Matt completed his Ph.D. at Durham University on joint polymer chemistry and continuous flow chemistry using elemental fluorine. Recently he has been involved reigniting his passions for synthesis by being BAE Systems Lead for WSTC 0158.

Matthew Didsbury
Flow Synthesis – Reintroduction of a useable scale UK explosive synthesis capability

A need has been established to create a UK capability for the small scale synthesis of a range of materials used in energetic material research within the UK. This is due to limited capacity in the current supply chain resulting in long lead times and also the requirement of significant minimum order quantities that can make research activities uneconomical for execution.

The adoption of flow synthesis techniques is well known in adjacent industrial sectors and a range of techniques and technologies are already deployed for a range of chemical synthesis routes. The presence of legacy technologies in the current supply chain has, thus far, precluded the adoption of these techniques in the context of energetic material synthesis.

Flow synthesis has the potential to aid in the reintroduction of UK energetic materials synthesis on a useable scale, which was lost with the closure of Bridgwater. There is increasing interest in flow synthesis as a potential technique to use to reintroduce a capability in the UK with a number of industrial, academic and government bodies expressing interest in reintroducing synthesis in the UK.

Investigations on the use of flow synthesis have been performed under WSTC (Weapons, Science and Technology Centre) task WSTC0158 – A Sovereign Capability for Portable, Safe, Small-Scale Explosive Ingredient Manufacture. The aim of this project is to review the potential to use flow synthesis as a method to produce energetic materials in the UK.

This paper will cover the work that has been performed to date within the WSTC0158 task and outline BAE Systems aspirations for flow synthesis.