Gradient Technology offers a variety of ammunition and hazardous item demilitarization (demil) solutions that focus on advancing environmentally friendly resource recovery and reclamation (R3) technologies. Gradient Technology’s goal is to provide environmentally sound processes for safely and efficiently demilitarizing obsolete ammunition or equipment items with a focus on recycling the valuable components.
Safe and Efficient—Gradient Technology’s technical staff focuses on process development that places personnel safety at the top of the list. Our system development projects in the demilitarization industry have involved the use of ammunition disassembly techniques that remove personnel from high-hazard environments through the use of automation and utilization of technologies that have the highest safety records in production settings.
As an example, we have patented several variations of High-Pressure Waterjet Technology that have all provided reliable methods for safely and rapidly slicing through the steel and explosive contents of explosive-filled items. Utilization of this technique allows for efficient access and then subsequent removal or immediate destruction of the hazardous contents. Using only pressurized water and industrial garnet abrasive Gradient Technology’s Waterjet Systems can efficiently cut through hardened steel ammunition or equipment while being safe enough to not initiate the high explosive contents.
Flexible— Typical demilitarization system designs require the equipment and operations to handle a variety of item sizes and shapes that may exist within an ammunition family or located at a discarded ammunition clean-up site. Gradient Technology’s engineering and operational team is highly experienced in designing processes that can accommodate the processing requirements for a complex stockpile of items with minimal changeover or equipment retooling requirements.
Mobile and Fully Integrated—All of the demilitarization processes we design and construct are configured to be easily shipped, installed, and subsequently relocated if necessary. Gradient Technology embraces a design philosophy of modular equipment packages that can be rapidly mobilized and site-integrated once factory testing and customer acceptance is achieved. This equipment construction approach is used for both long-term production settings and field clean-up sites since both environments are ever changing and greatly benefit from having easily relocated equipment packages.
Gradient Technology’s flagship operational site was established at NSA-Crane, Indiana in 2001. The facility houses the U.S. Army’s central processing facility for demilitarization of all items in the Explosive D family of ammunition. Gradient Technology developed patented processes for both the recovery of Explosive D from the ammunition items and the subsequent recycling of that material into saleable commercial chemicals. The production system and chemical conversion plant were designed, constructed, tested, installed, and commissioned by Gradient Technology personnel. The facility is still operated today by Gradient Technology’s highly trained production staff located at NSA-Crane.
The production operations at this site are performed in conjunction with our site partner Crane Army Ammunition Activity. Together, the team has successfully demilitarized over 350,000 Explosive D-filled Navy Gun Ammunition items ranging in size from 3”/50 projectiles all the way up to the massive 2,700 pound 16”/50 armor piercing projectiles fired from the Iowa-class Battleships.
Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) items are found at nearly all active, or formerly active, military sites with ammunition ranges or ammunition development activities. Many of the former military sites are eventually transitioned to other government agencies or back to the general public. During that process, site remediation of the existing UXO at the ranges, or within pre-established accumulation zones, is necessary for a safe transition of the land.
Gradient Technology developed a mobile technology package to assist with the safe and efficient processing of UXO at these remote field sites. The system utilizes High Pressure Waterjet Technology to aid in accessing the items to properly perform hazard determinations of the stockpile of items located at these sites and then subsequent processing of those items that are confirmed to be explosive hazards. The equipment package includes all of the required tooling, utilities, control network, and hazardous material collection and containment equipment to enable safe operations by the site personnel from remote control locations.
Discarded Military Munitions (DMM) and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) items are found in the waters surrounding nearly every active, or formerly active, coastal military target range or military ammunition port in the United States and Puerto Rico. Remediation of discarded ammunition located underwater has historically required placement of detonation charges by explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) divers or recovery of the hazardous and potentially unstable ordnance for demilitarization activities on the surface.
Gradient Technology has leveraged its extensive experience using high-pressure abrasive waterjet (AWJ) demil technology on land to develop a technology package that has shown promise in performing in situ demilitarization of ammunition underwater. We have been adapting our AWJ technology into a tool package that can be deployed and operated from the surface thereby removing the requirement of EOD divers interacting with underwater ordnance during remediation activities and avoid potentially significant and costly human and environmental impacts. The U.S. Department of Defense has funded demonstrations of the technology in preparation for addressing the underwater ordnance issues at places with sensitive marine environments and high public access such as Culebra and Vieques, Puerto Rico, as well as Ordnance Reef in Hawaii.
Gradient Technology has over 20 years of experience in successfully implementing ammunition demilitarization solutions for both Commercial and U.S. Government customers. Our technical teams are well experienced in merging commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology with custom process equipment development to provide reliable and safe demil solutions to our customers. Gradient Technology’s goals for these programs are to provide environmentally sound processes for eliminating explosive hazards from obsolete ammunition items while ensuring a safe and operationally efficient process.
The systems we develop for our customers are fully designed, constructed, integrated, and tested at our engineering and fabrication facility in Elk River, Minnesota. Sub-scale prototyping and testing is commonly a part of the programs to ensure all critical steps that lack a high level of performance confidence at the design stage are tested on inert or mock items to validate performance and ensure the factory-acceptance testing phase meets customer expectations. Once testing is completed, Gradient Technology personnel will install, commission, and assist with live testing of the process prior to formal transition to the customer’s operational personnel.
Gradient Technology prepares, maintains, and supplies to its customers a comprehensive technical data package that includes design information, mechanical drawings, vendor documents, electrical and controls drawings, controls programs, hazards analyses, standard operating procedures, maintenance plans and manuals, spare parts lists, etc. Gradient Technology also provides post-project support for all of the demilitarization systems it fields. This support occurs remotely and/or on-site depending upon the customer support required.
As a response to Commercial and U.S. Government customer need, Gradient Technology developed a package of equipment and associated procedures to safely and efficiently dismantle and remove hazardous piping and vessel networks within high-hazard production facilities. The facilities Gradient Technology has assisted in remediating to date have been highly contaminated with hazardous chemicals or residual explosives making them an extreme safety hazard for maintenance or construction personnel to work around in their efforts to reutilize the space where dormant operational equipment remains.
Gradient Technology utilized its experience in ammunition demilitarization and UXO range clean-up activities to develop a safe method for chemical facility and explosive processing equipment removal. Our technology package utilizes remotely-controlled high-pressure abrasive waterjet (AWJ) technology that was designed and constructed specifically to perform piping and equipment removal tasks. Gradient Technology personnel operate the equipment, safely segment all piping and vessels to allow for their safe removal from the facility, remove all equipment from the project buildings, and stage the items for final disposition.