Chapter V. Basic Research
Army Science and Technology Master Plan (ASTMP 1997)


4. Chemistry

a. Strategy

The Triennial Army Chemistry Long Range Strategy Planning Workshop was held in early 1995 with chemists from ARO, ARL, ARDEC, ERDEC, NRDEC, and WES. In early 1996 the Army Chemistry Coordinating Group met at Edgewood Research, Development and Engineering Center for its annual information exchange and planning meeting. Army chemists from ARO, ARL, ARDEC, ERDEC, NRDEC, CECOM, Army Demilitarization Activity, and U.S. Military Academy participated.

Following the Army Chemistry Long Range Strategy, research in chemistry continues to focus on programs for which the Army has lead responsibility:

(1) Chemical/biological defense
(2) Advanced materials research
(3) Explosives and propellants
(4) Soldier power
(5) Obsolete weapon demilitarization, installation restoration, and pollution prevention.

b. Major Research Areas

Chemical/Biological Defense

Advanced Materials Research

Explosives and Propellants

Soldier Power

Demilitarization, Installation Restoration, and Pollution Prevention

c. Other Research Areas

Polymer research develops new materials to protect the soldier from chemical and biological threat agents, ballistic penetration, and laser threats. New polymers and composites also provide tough, lightweight components for ground vehicles and aircraft. To meet these requirements, chemists synthesize new materials with tailored properties based on their knowledge of the relationships between polymer structure and function. Dendrimerspolymers branching densely from their origin are an important new thrust area based on Army chemists' recognition of a technological opportunity. ARO and ARL are working together on an initiative to study a revolutionary new molecular architecture, e.g., dendritic molecules.

Chemical dynamics and kinetics research provides input for ignition and combustion models for explosive and propellant performance. Army scientists and engineers use these models to design more lethal, less vulnerable munitions and to diagnose malfunctions. Combustion research provides information on improved design of military waste incinerators and new reactors for demilitarization of obsolete weapons and installation restoration. Understanding of flame chemistry enables development of new, environmentally acceptable fire retardants for troop carriers and other Army vehicles. Basic research at ARL over the past decade on laser ignition of propellants has led to demonstrations using Army field artillery during the past year.

Research in electrochemistry develops efficient, lightweight systems to cool the soldier and provide electric power for communications, position location, and target designation. Significant advances in increasing energy density and useful life of power soldiers for the soldier continued during the past year under cooperative programs between ARO, CECOM, and DARPA.

Colloidal solutions can provide effective, noncorrosive reagents for decontamination of chemical threat agents. Catalysts and reagents enable clean-up of contaminated air streams. Chemical reactors provide new tools for effective, controlled transformation of Army toxic materials, especially obsolete weapons (chemical and explosive munitions), into relatively harmless substances. These efforts have important payoff for protection of the soldier against chemical threats and for clean-up of contaminated sites. The ARO Chemical Reactors program is now developing chemical process models for evaluation by Army program manager.

d. Benefits of Research

Figure V9 shows a unique apparatus at United Technologies Research Center to measure surface temperatures on a burning strand of solid propellant. A laser beam enters from the right, Raman scattering occurs on the surface, and the spectrum is collected and subsequently dispersed in the monochrometer. Figure V10 shows an apparatus being used at the Illinois Institute of Technology to measure properties of fuel cell catalysts using infrared spectroscopy. As noted in Figure V23 at the end of this chapter, chemistry supports numerous Technology Areas (Chapter IV), particularly Aerosace Propulsion and Power, CB Defense, Conventional Weapons, Environmental Quality, and Material Processes & Structures.

Figure V-9. United Technologies' Study of Burning Propellants

Figure V-10. Illinois Institute of Technology Study of Fuel Cell Catalysts