U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Journal of Hazardous Materials 219– 220 (2012) 89– 94; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2012.03.060


The expedient field disposal of excess gun propellants on the ground is an integral part of live-fire training in many countries. However, burning excess propellant in the field will leave significant quantities of energetic residues and heavy metals in the environment. Compounds such as dinitrotoluene and nitroglycerin and metals such as lead will leach into the soil column, eventually migrating to groundwater. Contamination of the environment will lead to high remediation costs and the possible loss of the training facility. After investigating the contamination at several propellant disposal sites, a portable propellant burn pan was developed and tested. The pan was transported to training sites where excess propellant was loaded and burned in a controlled manner. Up to 120 kg of excess single-base propellant charges have been burned during two series of tests at a consumption rate of greater than 99.9%. Less than 0.03% of the energetic material was recovered outside the burn pan. Recovered lead is largely contained within the pan. The turnover rate for burns is 15 min. The residues can be collected following cool-down for proper disposal.