Small-scale Characterization of Homemade Explosives (HMEs)

Download Project Report (Phase 2, Year 3)

Project Description

Homemade Explosives (HMEs) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are an ever increasing threat. Many constituents for HMEs are readily available to terrorists at very little cost. Due to the rapidly increasing number of compositions which can be formulated, many HMEs are not well characterized, which increases the difficulty of assessing the threat of these mixtures, e.g., the determination of a threat mass. Many HMEs are considered non-ideal explosives, which tend to sustain detonation only in very large diameter charges; therefore, conventional explosive characterization experiments require large amounts of material, and result in a relatively small amount of data.


In this project, small-scale experiments are developed in order to safely and quickly characterize the relationship between small-scale and large-scale test data in a cost-efficient manner. Successful characterization of this relationship would provide quantitative information on threats posed by HMEs, including rankings of various HMEs in terms of detonability, and calibration data for model development.   The resulting models could then be used to assess threat.

[The] research methodology of these small-scale experiments is technically sound and will allow to obtain key data quickly and at a lower cost.
Biennial Review
Project Leader
  • Steven F. Son
    Associate Professor
    Purdue University

Faculty and Staff Currently Involved in Project
  • Lori J. Groven
    Assistant Professor
    South Dakota School of Mines

Students Currently Involved in Project
  • David Kittell
    Purdue University
  • Peter Renslow
    Purdue University
  • Nick Cummock
    Purdue University