Energetic Materials

What We Do

Energetic materials, particularly high explosives, play an integral role in the U.S. nuclear deterrent as triggers for nuclear devices. Our researchers leverage experimentation at world-class facilities and high-fidelity modeling and simulation to propel scientific advances in energetic materials.

HEAF facility

Meet Our People

Suzanne Sheehe portrait

Suzanne Sheehe

Research Scientist

“The mission focus here at LLNL adds tangible value to our work. I’ve met so many wonderful people that are passionate about the work and the mission that push us to produce high-quality data and extend boundaries of science. The Lab is truly an exciting place to work where ideas are encouraged and people are highly valued.”

Nate Zuckerman portrait

Nate Zuckerman

Synthetic Organic Chemist

“Working in energetic material synthesis at LLNL is a unique and rewarding experience. We think broadly not only to understand the fundamental properties of materials, but also to anticipate future needs and develop new methods to produce materials in a safe, reproducible, and controllable manner.”

Adam Bertsch portrait

Rebecca K. Lindsey

Computational Chemist

“I love the ever-evolving nature of my work at LLNL and seemingly endless opportunities to contribute my expertise to the highly collaborative multidisciplinary teams central to our work at the Lab. Developing and leveraging cutting-edge technology to tackle complex problems toward enhanced national security is very rewarding.”

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Making Our Mark Through Game-Changing Projects

EMDEC: A high explosives processing campus

Energetic Materials Development Enclave (EMDEC) is a campus of existing, emerging, and proposed capabilities to capture all the elements of high explosives (HE) production maturation at Site 300. EMDEC includes capabilities for the synthesis, formulation, pressing, and machining to produce engineered HE components. Exemplar projects in EMDEC, such as additive manufacturing and continuous synthesis, are already making impacts on our production partners and our modernization programs. When fully realized, EMDEC will provide more agile and responsive HE production for the Nuclear Security Enterprise.

EMDEC Energetic Materials Development Enclave

CHEETAH: A code to predict energetic materials properties

Cheetah, an LLNL thermochemical computer code, is a convenient and accurate physics- and chemistry-based computational tool for predicting the detonation velocities and energy release properties of energetic materials, such as explosives, propellants, and pyrotechnics. Cheetah employs advanced concepts and theories of fluids and solids at high pressures and temperatures to model the thermodynamics of explosion products that result from the detonation of modern, energy-dense explosives. The results can be used for materials design, performance predictions, and formulation optimization, as well as safety analyses, accident forensics, and even to study homemade and terrorist devices.

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Supercomputer simulations of shock-induced explosive reactions suggest that the microstructure of heterogeneous solid explosive materials impact performance and safety.

Mechanical properties: Deepening our knowledge of insensitive high explosives

Insensitive high explosives are key in our weapons work, and LLNL is working to increase our understanding of their mechanical behavior. This understanding is fundamental to providing accurate predictions for computational models and to validating high-fidelity material models to assess weapon designs. A first-of-its-kind series of tests—the Large Test Matrix—supports this effort and will result in more than 1,350 tests.

physicist working on equipment

Unique Energetic Materials Facilities

LLNL is home to one-of-a-kind experimental facilities that allow us to safely execute energetic materials tests. Learn more about some of our incredible facilities where our scientists conduct energetic materials experiments.

Physicist working in a HEAF lab

High Explosives Applications Facility (HEAF)

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Physicist working in a CFF lab

Site 300 Experimental Test Site

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