In New Jersey, Picatinny engineers have partnered with private industry to harness its photosynthesis ability to develop a safe, cheap, fast and environmentally-friendly way to recycle aging M6 artillery round propellant and create biofuel.
Propellant is the chemical substance in the artillery round that ignites and propels the round out of the howitzer tube. Currently, M6 propellant in the M119 artillery rounds is disposed, or demilitarized, primarily through incineration or open burning, which generates carbon dioxide.
When circumstances allow it, the military recycles metal parts during the demilitarization processes. However, the algae-based demilitarization method would allow the Army to recycle nitrogen, which is present in all propellants and explosives. The Picatinny team is working with the industrial biotechnology company Algenol Biotech LLC, which has a patented algae technology platform for the production of ethanol and other biofuels. ARDEC engineers are developing the hydrolysis process to extract the nitrogen at Picatinny. The nitrogen would then be shipped to Algenol in Florida for the algae growth