Over the last 15 years the worldwide trend for explosives testing has been in the direction of replacing open-air detonations with containment vessels, especially when any hazardous materials are involved. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have been developing a high performance filament wound composite firing vessel intended for containment of a limited number of detonations of cased explosive assemblies that contain toxic metals and gaseous by-products. A 2-meter diameter pressure vessel is being designed for containment of up to 80 lb TNT equivalent cased explosive without leakage. The composite containment vessel for explosive experiments that may become vital to the future of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) effort to ensure the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile without nuclear testing. The new vessel design is intended to accommodate the more stringent containment standards that are likely to be in place for all manners of explosive tests in the future, especially those involving nuclear material. The motivation for development of a windowless vessel is that it will allow X-ray or proton radiographic imaging from many locations and angles. The new windowless, portable, vessel design allows for multiple radiographic lines of sight without changing the structural design of the vessel when experimenters need additional lines of sight for X-ray or proton imaging. The new vessel is made using composite materials for dynamic loading. Low-density continuous aramid fibers with trade names such as Kevlar and Zylon make up the outer shell, which provides the primary structural resistance against the blast forces. An aluminum load sharing liner undernearth it is used as a sealing surface and doubles as the winding mandrel for the composite filaments. Ceramic materials are used for fragmentation protection of the aluminum pressure liner. Results from a recent a half-scale prototype vessel test that contained an internal blast from an 18-pound sphere of C4 explosive will be compared with numerical simulations. Several innovative features introduced in this design are presented which include a seal monitoring system for leakage, friction stir welding of the pressure liner, and fiber optic stain sensors. This composite vessel design may have other additional applications such as containing experiments with nuclear or other hazardous materials. It might also handle transporting sensitive explosives that could only otherwise be moved in very small quantities or as highly portable, explosive containment system for law enforcement.

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