Inproved Synthesis Process for CL-20

Period of Performance: 05/22/2014 - 11/21/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

TDA Research, Inc.
12345 W. 52nd Ave. Array
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Principal Investigator


TDA Research, Inc. (TDA) proposes a new route for the chemical synthesis of the explosive compound CL-20. CL-20, which is an acronym for 2,4,6,8,10,12-hexanitro-2,4,6,8,10,12-hexaazaisowurtzitane, is an oxidizing explosive nitramine molecule that has higher energy density than the widely used explosives RDX and HMX. This and other properties make CL-20 highly sought after for use in explosive and propellant applications. However, because of its difficult multi-step synthesis it is too expensive for general military use. Therefore, the Navy seeks an improved chemical synthetic route to CL-20 in order to reduce the cost and environmental impact of its production. Our process will offer multiple benefits as compared to the standard CL-20 production processes. Our process will eliminate the need for both benzylamine as a precursor and expensive precious metal catalysts such as palladium and platinum. TDA s new synthesis process will produce CL-20 in fewer steps than current routes and will be scalable. This will satisfy the Navy s need for an improved, economical, and environmentally acceptable CL-20 production route. In Phase I we will demonstrate proof-of-concept for our methods with full spectroscopic characterization of the precursors and products. Phase II will include laboratory scale-up, process engineering, and economic analysis of the process. Commercialization will be conducted in partnership with an established explosive manufacturer so that CL-20 can become available for use in military and aerospace applications.