Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Scientist preparing experiment outside of contained firing tank

HEAF Firing Tank

Scientists prepare for a test at HEAF, NNSA's Center of Excellence for high explosives research and development.

DOE/NNSA has identified LLNL's High Explosives Applications Facility (HEAF) as the complexwide Center of Excellence for high explosives (HE) research and development (R&D). In this capacity HEAF is a source of subject matter expertise for high explosives and other energetic materials. Its mission is to provide these expertises to serve multiple government agencies including DOE, DoD, TSA, Homeland Security, the FBI, and other law enforcement and government intelligence organizations. HEAF is well equipped to fulfill this mission.

From its conception, HEAF was designed to integrate the operations of synthesis, formulation, and explosives testing in a single synergistic facility. Today, our nationally recognized team of approximately 120 chemists, physicists, engineers, and technicians contribute to the nation's understanding of explosives by:

  • Developing new explosives in our synthesis and formulation laboratories
  • Conducting explosives properties testing
  • Developing experimental diagnostics
  • Designing and executing diamond-anvil-cell experiments for basic explosives properties research
  • Studying explosives at the micron scale in its microdetonics laboratory
  • Using multiple firing tanks for larger scale explosives experiments

No other facility in the world supports such a multidisciplinary mission under one roof.

HEAF provides national leadership in the study of chemical high explosives for many agencies of the federal government. Scientists apply expertise in characterization, formulation, synthesis, and experimentation—integrating experimental data with computer simulations to understand energetic materials in pursuit of the nation's most important national issues. This unique, integrated scientific facility enables HEAF to make major contributions in many areas of national security, including weapon development, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Examples include:

  • Stockpile Stewardship, assuring the reliability and safety of our nuclear weapons
  • Conventional weapon development, including special-purpose weapons, armor penetration, and infantry protective equipment design
  • Development of new safer explosives for military and commercial use
  • Counterterrorism, including improvised explosives
  • Basic explosives research and development
  • Development of next-generation high-speed diagnostics for explosives research
  • Development of environmentally focused processes such as molten salt oxidation of explosives for safe and clean disposal of explosive waste