Explosives Research and Development

Efforts to mitigate the environmental impacts of our explosives products continue to be focused on using more sustainable input materials and reducing the impacts associated with product use.


Highlights during 2017 included:

• Continued development and marketing of explosive products and delivery systems that reduce blast fume emissions and minimise groundwater nitrate leaching, including the commencement of a new joint research project with Murdoch University titled Low Fume Explosives for Critical Areas (read our case study below);

• Continued testing of recycled, reclaimed and treated oils, hydrocarbons and waxes to supplement the use of virgin fuel sources in emulsion-based explosives;

• Testing of oxidiser, an ingredient of explosives, sourced from internal and customer waste streams;

• Technical support to allow the reformulation and reuse of out-of-specification product in ammonium nitrate emulsion manufacture in Australia, reducing our waste; and

• Collaboration with customers to develop and test new products, processes and methods of product delivery which increase safety and efficiency where explosives are used in hot and reactive ground conditions in North America and in underground applications in Australia.

 

Planned for 2018:

• Implementation of the improved technology underground product-delivery system;

• Supporting “Value In Use” programs for major customers to reduce the cost of blasting;

• Continued research into post blast fume reduction;

• Development of inhibited products for safer use at higher temperatures in reactive ground through the recently approved Australian Research Council Funded project Emulsion Explosives for blasting in extreme geothermal environments

• Implementation of the “Differential Energy” product-delivery system for hard rock applications in Australia; and

• Progressing the collaboration between our explosives laboratories and our fertiliser business by developing a technical capability to support manufacture, transport and storage of fertiliser products.

 

Read more about our work with customers to reduce the environmental and social impacts of using our explosives products at Minimising the Impacts of Blasting.


 

 

We continue to research both the formation of NOx and methods to reduce NOx to minimise the impacts of the use of our explosives products on the environment. Having completed one project in 2016 on effects of different additives in reducing NOx formation, we are now working on the development of low fume explosives for critical areas. This research has resulted in more than six published papers in scientific journals related to reducing NOx emissions during blasting, and we are using this research to develop improved products and product delivery methods.

In North America, we have developed technology that allows the use of bio-fuels and bio-fuel by-products as an alternative to petroleum-derived hydrocarbons for the manufacture of blasting agents and bulk emulsion products. This technology has been enabled in our product line, though take up has been slow due to limited product availability and the relative costs associated with using bio-fuels if the mine site is not located close by. We continue to offer this service to our North American customers and expect greater uptake in the future. 

We are also working with customers to introduce technologies that use petrochemicals extracted from waste materials as part of the explosive composition. Waste materials such as discarded tyres and waste oil from machinery are ideal candidates for use, particularly at remote mine sites where trucking virgin materials in and waste materials out consumes resources and time. During 2016 we continued testing third party extracted materials in Australia and the US as well as oils made from natural gas sources. The recycling of a range of ‘out of specification’ (OOS) materials has been developed significantly in 2017, and we will continue to test non-traditional sources for recycling hydrocarbons and other materials in partnership with our customers as the opportunities arise.

Case Study: Research and development underpins the Dyno Nobel Emulsions Quality System (EQS)


During 2017 we continued to promote the collaboration between our research and development teams and our manufacturing sites to improve the quality of our products. Implementation was completed on the Dyno Nobel Emulsion Quality System, with all actions associated backed up by the science of our research and development teams. These actions included:

• Review of the quality control requirements for emulsion manufacture, transport, storage and use;

• Standardisation of all emulsion plants with regards to processes, instrumentation and calibration; and

• Establishment of the Emulsion Plant Optimisation Team to embed the EQS learnings, to share experiences and knowledge across our sites, and to use BEx processes to continue to improve on all facets of product quality.

 


Case Study: Dyno Nobel and Murdoch University designing safer, low NOx explosives for mining


A research project to tackle one of the major safety and environmental concerns for the mining industry is the focus of a three year project now underway at Murdoch University with the support of global explosives manufacturer and supplier, Dyno Nobel. This Australian Research Council Linkage project, worth $570,000 with a further $390,000 cash and further in kind support from Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific is investigating ways to reduce emissions of NOx gas during blasts, which can arise in certain conditions.

 

DNAP Research and Development Manager Dr Jeffrey Gore says Dyno Nobel has worked for several years with Professor Dlugogorski from Murdoch University to identify suitable explosive technologies to minimise the generation of post blast fumes for application in soft and wet ground.

 

“An example is the Titan 9000xero® product which was developed by the DNAP Explosives R&D team in 2014. To date, in more than 200 blasts, no orange post blast fume, which may contain NOx (nitrogen dioxide), has been observed during use,” Dr Gore said. This project aims to include the development of new blends of no-fume high-bulk energy strength explosives and to develop better methods to sample gases from detonation fumes. The work will be completed by Professor Dlugogorski and Dr Mohammednoor Altarawneh from Murdoch University and Dr Gore.

 

“Working with Murdoch University allows access to world class researchers and facilities with the right experience that can significantly shorten the development and commercialisation times for new products and technologies,” said Dr Gore.

 

Dr Gore said the fundamental studies of the research program would be performed at Murdoch University and when the technology was to be scaled up in explosives formulations, the work would be performed at Dyno Nobel’s R&D Centre at Mt Thorley in New South Wales.

List of research organisations funded