Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory



Picture of scientists working with target chamber in the background

HEAF has seven fully contained firing tanks for testing explosive quantities from less than a gram up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds) net explosive weight. These tanks provide a way to conduct explosive experiments indoors under well-controlled conditions with elaborate dynamic diagnostics. HEAF is equipped with extensive, high-fidelity, high-speed diagnostic capabilities including x-ray radiography, x-ray tomography, high-speed photography, laser velocimetry, and embedded particle velocity/pressure measurements. Many of these diagnostics are integrated into the firing tanks to provide an abundant return of dynamic data.


Many types of tests are executed in these tanks including cylinder test for detonation performance, blast tests for enhanced blast explosives including thermites and thermobarics, and the scaled thermal explosion (STEX) test to characterize the violence of thermal explosions due to physical containment coupled with elevated temperatures. HEAF was recently tasked by TSA and Homeland Security to investigate the threat of improvised explosives, those that could be formulated by a terrorist using commercially available materials. Our 100-mm research gun is used for high velocity impact studies on chemical reactivity and equation-of-state experiments on energetic material targets. The gun is capable of achieving projectile velocities up to 2500 m/sec. The associated target containment tank will confine detonations up to 5 kg.

Scientists setting up experiment in front of target chamber