Controlled Detonation Chamber (CDC)



The Controlled Detonation Chamber (formerly known as the Donovan Blast Chamber), was the first system approved by the Army for destroying non-chemical mortars and shells unearthed at former military munitions ranges. Munitions are packed in explosive and loaded into a large, double-walled steel chamber along with bags of water for thermal control and steam generation. The floor of the chamber is also covered with pea gravel, which absorbs some of the blast energy. The system is sealed and the explosive is detonated. This explosion breaks open the munition and detonates any energetics [e.g., trinitrotoluene (TNT)]. The CDC is safe, reliable, and effective. It is made in transportable versions that are appropriate for destroying small, medium, and large numbers of munitions. In addition, there is a large fixed model that could be used at a large burial site or firing range. The CDC has an air pollution control unit that filters and treats vapors.


Limitations and Concerns

If disposing of large quantities of bulk munitions per year, using the chamber may take too long to be of use.

The Army stated that even with a blast chamber on site, it will still have to burn or detonate some shells in place if they are too large or dangerous to handle.


The CDC and similar configurations are used to detonate unexploded ordnance. It is also used internationally for chemical warfare materiel destruction, although it is not permitted in the U.S. for this purpose.

Technology Development Status

The technology is commercially available.

Web Link

Other Resources and Demonstrations

See for description of this technology as it is used in chemical weapons destruction.