The Department of Defense and the Department of Energy recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed to optimize DoE's technological resources to enhance DoD's unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance research, development, test, and evaluation. The MoU formalizes pre-existing cooperative work underway by the two departments to address the growing need for reliable, cost-effective unexploded ordnance clearance solutions.
Under the terms of the MoU, DoE and DoD will share basic and applied research, and technology demonstration and validation results. The Energy Department will identify on-going and past DoE efforts that have applicability to UXO clearance; and the capabilities of DoE national laboratories will be more fully and productively utilized through a cooperative, longer-term coordination process provided by the MoU.
The collaborative effort between the two departments has the potential of identifying DoE technologies helpful in developing detection concepts and practical applications of locating and neutralizing UXO. Among the emerging innovative detection concepts that will be investigated are: pinpointing UXO locations by ultraviolet illumination of fluorescent genetically engineered bacteria that react to explosives; remote controlled characterization of rough terrain by systems equipped with multiple sensors (magnetometers, metal detectors and ground penetrating radar), 6-wheel drive and an articulated chassis; improving UXO identification by fusing signals from micropower impulse radar with other sensors; and confirming the presence of explosives in suspected UXO by irradiating the explosive with neutrons via portable detectors. Once the UXO has been located the existing Small Emplacement Excavator may be equipped with a remote control kit to allow safe, tele-operated access and removal.
The Defense Department will retain primary responsibility for UXO clearance technology improvement, and will fund DoE programs that meet the DoD UXO mission requirements. The two departments will continue to explore opportunities for further joint cooperation in unexploded ordnance clearing research and development. The DoD, with DoE input, will prepare the annual DoD UXO Clearance Report outlining DoD UXO mission requirements, current capabilities and potential technology solutions.