Ammunition that has reached its end of life or become obsolete is considered hazardous waste due to the energetic material content that must be decommissioned. One of the technologies to dispose of ammunition involves the use of incinerators with sophisticated gas treatment systems; however, this disposal process has important limitations in terms of incinerator capacity, energy requirements and high costs. This article assesses the potential primary energy avoided and environmental benefits arising from the valorization of energetic material from military ammunition by incorporating it into civil emulsion explosives, as an alternative to destructive disposal. This approach follows the circular economy principle, as articulated inter alia
in BS 8001:2007, by giving a new service to a residue through its incorporation into a new product. A prospective life-cycle model is implemented based on primary data from previous studies on the conventional disposal process and on the production of emulsion explosive. The model applies system expansion to calculate the environmental burdens avoided when energetic material from ammunition is incorporated into civil explosives. The results show that re-using ammunition through valorization of energetic material greatly reduces the environmental impacts in all categories compared to the conventional disposal process. The benefits arise mainly from avoiding the incineration and flue gas treatment processes in ammunition disposal, and displacing production of civil explosive components with the energetic material from ammunition.
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