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Open AccessArticle

A Circular Economy Approach to Military Munitions: Valorization of Energetic Material from Ammunition Disposal through Incorporation in Civil Explosives

1
ADAI-LAETA, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Coimbra, 3030-788 Coimbra, Portugal
2
Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(1), 255; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010255
Received: 15 October 2018 / Revised: 26 December 2018 / Accepted: 27 December 2018 / Published: 7 January 2019
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: ammunition incineration; down-cycling; energetic material recycling; industrial ecology; life-cycle assessment ammunition incineration; down-cycling; energetic material recycling; industrial ecology; life-cycle assessment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ferreira, C.; Ribeiro, J.; Clift, R.; Freire, F. A Circular Economy Approach to Military Munitions: Valorization of Energetic Material from Ammunition Disposal through Incorporation in Civil Explosives. Sustainability 2019, 11, 255.

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