Explosives Research and Development

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

Highlights during 2018 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, with
the successful commercialisation of one source, reducing waste and generating cost savings for customers;
• Continued collaboration with customers to test ore samples and selectively modify emulsion products for hot and reactive ground in North America;
• Commencement of a new Australian Research Council funded project Emulsion Explosives for blasting 
in extreme geothermal environments with the University of Sydney to further develop inhibited emulsion explosives for safer blasting in extreme (hot and reactive) geothermal environments; 
• The introduction of our proprietary Differential Energy technology to the Australian and Indonesian explosives markets. This product continues to result in reduced NOx emissions, reduced energy use, less noise and ground vibration and increased productivity for customers; and
• Implementation of the improved technology underground product-delivery system.


Planned for 2019:

• Continued support of ‘Value In Use’ programs for major customers to reduce the cost of blasting; 
• Continued in field trialling and research into post blast fume reduction; 
• Continued collaboration between our explosives laboratories and our fertiliser business to further  develop a technical capability to support the manufacture, transport and storage of both fertiliser and explosives products. 
• Continued laboratory testing of new raw material sources to ensure product quality in the USA;
• Investigation of new technology to allow the utilization of resources previously deemed unfeasible;
• Innovation of underground emulsion delivery system technology to meet customer specific requirements. 

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 a previous project 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 have also undertaken work with customers and third party suppliers 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. The recycling of a range of ‘out of specification’ (OOS) materials has been developed significantly, 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 2018 we continued to promote the collaboration between our research and development teams and our manufacturing sites to improve the quality of our products. Our research and development team in North America worked with product management to identify opportunities in operator training to improve quality control. This resulted in further collaboration between Dyno Nobel Transport International (DNTI), our engineers and our product managers to implement a new training system aimed at ensuring that the high standards for product quality established for our emulsion products were extended beyond manufacturing to handling, delivery and loading for use at customer sites. The training addresses handling procedures that can potentially impact on product quality and shelf life, and supports the Dyno Nobel Emulsion Quality System (EQS). The EQS was implemented in 2017, 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 continuous improvement 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.



Case Study: Dyno Nobel and the University of Sydney’s Key Centre for Polymer Colloids secure ARC research grant to focus on safer mining in high temperature geothermal ore bodies


In line with our strategic value drivers of Customer Focus and Leading Technology Solutions, this project will allow us to develop solutions to our customers’ challenges when working in hot and reactive ground. 
As Rob Rounsley, our Chief Technology Development Officer explained, mining in high temperature ground, such as extreme geothermal environments, has always been a challenge for the industry. 

“Creating a solution that improves safety whilst lifting productivity through innovative technology is a key driver for Dyno Nobel, and we are excited to be working on developing this ground breaking project,” Mr Rounsley said.

Dyno Nobel has some of the world’s most innovative explosives chemists on board, led by Explosives R&D Manager Dr Jeff Gore. 

“The team is thrilled to be collaborating with the some of the brightest minds in Australia on this project including Associate Professor Brian Hawkett, Professor Gregory Warr, Associate Professor James Beattie, and Professor Roger Tanner at the Key Centre for Polymer Colloids,” Dr Gore said.

“Partnering with these world-class experts is an exciting step forward in addressing the challenges global miners face in operation in higher temperature ground.”

Research into emulsion explosives for rock blasting in extreme geothermal environments aims to understand the underlying mechanisms behind the physical and chemical breakdown of ammonium nitrate-based emulsion explosives used for mining in geothermally active regions. 

“We want to progress our learnings and apply this knowledge to develop a new class of emulsion explosives for use at higher temperatures,” Dr Gore said. 

“Our findings will also benefit the Australian mining industry by allowing mining of resources at depth, where the ground temperature is very high due to geothermal heating or other factors associated with high temperature ore body and importantly extract these resources safely and with improved productivity.”

“Dyno Nobel and the KCPC have a long history of success in obtaining government-sponsored funding for these high-end research activities, and with only 34 per cent of proposals receiving approval, we are very much looking forward to researching solutions to these issues."



Case Study: Addressing hot and reactive ground for our North American customers


Addressing hot and reactive ground also continued to be a significant focus in north America in 2018. The testing of ore samples to determine product compatibility was conducted for a number of our customers in the USA. Working in collaboration with the engineering group, the research and development team developed a new process to allow customers to selectively modify standard emulsion products to inhibit them against hot and reactive ground. This included the modification of delivery systems and the creation of an inhibiting solution to allow variable inhibition of the final product. This was successfully trialled at a customer site and was very well received as it improved mine efficiency and product performance.