Nalas team solves crystal structure for key intermediate in production of a next generation primary explosive!

The long-time elusive structure of the acid copper(II) salt intermediate in the production of DBX-1 has been solved by our team at Nalas!

The Army relies on Lead Azide as the primary explosive for nearly all primers and detonators. Due to environmental concerns surrounding the use of lead, the Army has been leading an effort to develop a Lead Azide replacement, which successfully resulted in identification of copper (I) 5-nitrotetrazole (DBX-1) as a direct replacement. DBX-1 is produced from sodium 5-nitrotetrazole (NaNT).  In support of this effort, the Army funded Nalas Engineering Services, Inc. (Nalas) to provide process development services towards the design of a robust process to NaNT suitable for direct conversion to DBX-1.  Our concerted development efforts to fully solve this reaction’s material balance lead to the isolation and characterization of the acid copper(II) salt intermediate.  The single-crystal X-ray shows that infinite chains of copper(II) ions complexed by six 5-nitrotetrazolate anions are aligned along the sixfold axis. Hydronium ions are located on the threefold axis with additional neutral water molecules.  Our work has been published by the Propellants, Explosives & Pyrotechnics.  The PEP Editorial Advisory Board Members are internationally renowned experts in the field of energetic materials. Their high-quality articles make milestones in this research area.

Congrats Team Nalas! We would also like to give special thanks to our long-time Army partners for supporting our research.  We look forward to continuing our work together as we demonstrate scale-up of our robust NaNT process to 20-L scale in 2015!