9 November 2016


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News from Cranfield University

A new state-of-the-art chemistry facility has been opened by Cranfield University that will drive its future research into energetic materials.

Cranfield is already a world-leading centre for expertise in energetic materials – these include explosives, pyrotechnic compositions, propellants, and fuels. The Abel Building is a purpose-built facility that replaces the existing energetic processing capabilities at the university, with the addition of facilities for processing of pyrotechnic compositions.

All explosive processing work is performed by remote operation observed from a control room using a CCTV system and the building has been strengthened with reinforced concrete walls, blast doors, and a frangible panel in the roof.

Its preparation rooms include the following highly specialised capabilities:

  • 10, 50, and 100 tonne presses;
  • A mixer room;
  • A conducting room dedicated to pyrotechnics and other sensitive energetics;
  • A process development room for an anchor stirrer mixer, a rapid acoustic mixer, a Z-blade mixer, and other new technologies which may emerge over the next 10-20 years;
  • The ability to store explosives overnight.

Professor Jackie Akhavan, Professor of Explosive Chemistry Synthesis and Formulations, and Head of the Centre for Defence Chemistry, who led the project, said: 'The new energetic processing facility demonstrates not only our commitment to our customers, but creates a centre for excellence for R&D in energetic materials.

'The Abel Building is part of Cranfield’s ambitious plans to invest in new facilities and infrastructure over a 25-year period.'

The Abel Building was officially opened by Cranfield Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson. Also invited were guests from strategic partners, such as Hugh Bellars, Head of Weapons Engineering at the MOD’s Defence Equipment & Support, and Dr Norman Godfrey, Deputy Chief Scientist at AWE.

The building was named in honour of Sir Frederick Abel (1827-1902), the leading British authority on explosives who jointly invented cordite, which was adopted as the standard explosive of the British Army.

It joins the many other facilities that Cranfield has at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Shrivenham, part of the University’s role as a provider of postgraduate education to the UK’s Ministry of Defence. 

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