Cryofracture involves cooling a munition in liquid nitrogen and fracturing its casing in a press, followed by the decontamination of the fragments by either incinerator or by an alternative system such as a neutralization reactor, followed by a supercritical water oxidation system.
Safety is a primary criterion in the Cryofracture process. In addition to highly conservative safety features for normal facility operations, safety features are also provided for unexpected or off-normal events. The portion of the system where munitions are fractured is surrounded by an explosive-containment chamber that is designed to protect equipment and personnel in the event of an unexpected detonation. Alarms warn of unsafe conditions and protect the plant and personnel. Containment of dust and vapors is assured, while numerous remote features minimize personnel exposure and risk. Safety of the general public is further enhanced by appropriate pollution abatement systems, filter systems, and proper disposal of plant wastes.
Cryofracture provides the flexibility to safely destroy any type of munition in any condition, making it uniquely applicable to old and abandoned munitions. Other demilitarization processes depend on either the ability to disassemble the munition or the use of slow accessing processes to expose the munition contents for destruction or recycle. Old and abandoned munitions are usually degraded, and the details of internal construction may not be well known. Cryofracture provides a rapid, reliable, robust process to access the munitions without contaminating the contents or requiring munition disassembly. Cryofracture is also compatible with a variety of subsequent processing steps, including other demilitarization technologies developed by GA:
- Incineration. State-of-the-art munition disposal incineration systems that comply with strict environmental and safety regulations.
- Neutralization. Processes for neutralization or hydrolysis of energetics.
- Supercritical Water Oxidation. Process that utilizes the unique properties of water at supercritical conditions to destroy (oxidize) hazardous waste materials