Since 1984 the MREL Group of
Companies has been conducting research on the effectiveness of
explosive dusts, explosive foams, explosive liquids and shaped charges
against landmines for eventual integration into minefield breaching
and minefield clearance systems.
In 1998 the explosives-research efforts turned to development of a
two-component (binary) explosive system. The goal was to use
relatively inexpensive components that were not explosive and could be
easily transported around the world by commercial airfreight with
minimal logistics and at a low cost. In addition, the components would
be easily mixed at the minefield to produce an explosive that could
substitute for the more expensive plastic and block TNT explosives
commonly used to destroy landmines and UXO. This technique is known as
"blow in place" or BIP.
In November 1998, the research efforts resulted in
the successful detonation of a binary explosive system. Further
investigations have characterized and customized the system with the
eventual goal of independent verification of its performance against
landmines and UXO. Patents are pending.
This newly developed binary explosive system has been termed FIXOR,
an acronym for Field-friendly, Inexpensive, uneXploded
Ordnance Remover. Several test programs involving the
use of FIXOR against a variety of landmines and UXO have been
|FIXOR is a binary flammable liquid-based explosive kit that has
been designed to complement or replace the use of purchased plastic
explosives and block TNT as traditional demining and UXO explosive
charges. As shown in Figure 1(above), FIXOR consists of two
precursors: a flammable liquid (FIXOR Liquid, U.N. 2842, NSN
1375-21-920-4587) in one 500 ml plastic container and a totally inert
powder (FIXOR Powder, NSN 1375-21-920-4638) in another 500 ml plastic
container. Unlike binary nitromethane-based explosives, both FIXOR
precursors are formally approved for transport by land, sea and
commercial passenger airfreight.
liquid and FIXOR powder.
In the country of use, FIXOR can be stored and
transported as a flammable liquid and changed into an explosive by the
deminer at the minefield when required. The precursors are mixed to
form a Class 1.1D explosive (FIXOR Explosive, U.N. 0048) immediately
prior to placement next to the UXO or landmine. Initiation and
detonation of the FIXOR Explosive occurs by blasting cap or detonating
cord. The goal of the FIXOR is to cause sympathetic detonation of the
landmine or UXO immediately upon detonation of the FIXOR Explosive.
do not form an explosive until the contents of the two bottles are
thoroughly mixed together. Therefore, if the contents of FIXOR
precursors or FIXOR Explosive are spilled, they are not harmful to the
deminer or to the environment. FIXOR Explosive is very safe to handle
and deploy; however, it must be treated with respect since it is a
detonator-sensitive explosive. After several hours of remaining
unshaken, FIXOR will not detonate when fired by a detonator or by a
detonating cord. This design makes FIXOR an unlikely candidate for
misuse by hostile groups as a "booby-trap"
or terrorist device. Unless FIXOR is re-shaken, it will only act as a
FIXOR has been designed to integrate seamlessly
with demining training methods and operating procedures in use
throughout the world. FIXORs are easily and safely deployable by
indigenous deminers and require no ongoing field technical support.
They are also fully functional under all demining weather conditions.
The diagram on this page is a schematic illustration of the procedure
for making FIXOR Explosive at the clearance site.
of FIXOR Products
When the liquid and powder components are combined as shown in the
above figure, the resulting mixture is a "cap-sensitive"
explosive. The velocity of detonation (VOD) for this mixture was
determined to be approximately 4300 m/s when placed in a plastic (PVC)
tube with a 5 cm inner diameter. The VOD trace acquired using the
continuous-resistance wire technique compares well with a calculated
value of 4333 m/s, obtained using CHEETAH 2.0 with the BKWC library.1
The estimated detonation pressure for this mixture is of the order on
40—44 kbar, using either CHEETAH 2.O or a typical formula to
estimate the pressure (P = dD2/4,
where d is formulation density and D is the velocity of detonation).2
In addition, air-blast measurements have been conducted. This method’s
results indicate that the TNT equivalency of FIXOR is of the order of
80—85 percent TNT. It should be noted that the use of other methods
for this measurement would undoubtedly provide somewhat different
results based on the differences in brisance that exist between TNT
of FIXOR Against Landmines and UXO
Three basic configurations for neutralization of
landmines/ ordnance can be utilized. These configurations allow
increasing amounts of explosive power (shock) to be imparted to
the target, depending on the hardness/toughness of the target
Standard Attack Configuration:
The standard attack configuration involves placement of one
FIXOR adjacent to a target. This method is typically used for
small, plastic-encased AP landmines. A #12 equivalent detonator
(> 0.8 gPETN) or knotted detonating cord is used to initiate
directions for the use of FIXOR.
Counterforce or "Earmuff" Attack
The counterforce or "earmuff" attack configuration
involves the placement of two FIXORs on opposite sides of a target.
This configuration is typically used for larger AP mines and various
plastic or thin steel-cased (but not hardened) AT landmines. Figure
1 (above) shows this attack configuration against a TMA-5
landmine. Knotted detonating cord
lines (or "sensitized detonating cord"—detonator double
crimped on the cord end) are used for simultaneous initiation of the
FIXORs. This method of initiation ensures simultaneous detonation of
more than one FIXOR whereas some commercial "instantaneous"
detonators have demonstrated initiation time scatter .
Focused Energy Attack Configuration:
The focused energy attack configuration involves
filling the FIXOR completely with FIXOR Explosive which can enhance
the performance of an individual FIXOR by "topping-up" the
container with the explosive from another FIXOR. This action increases
the net explosive weight from 400 g (0.9 lb.) to approximately 500 g
(1.1 lb.) per FIXOR. One FIXOR can be used to top-up four other FIXORs
by mixing five FIXORs and using one to fill up the other four. To
enhance the performance of the topped-up FIXOR, point the bottom of
FIXOR towards the target and use the shaped charge or Monroe effect
from the bottom end of FIXOR. Two or more FIXORs can be used to focus
the energy on hardened targets.
Neutralization of Targets
The following targets have been neutralized using
selected variations of the above attack configurations:
- AT Mines: M19, M21 Mk 7,
TMA-5, TMA-3, PT-Mi-Ba III
- AP Mines: VS50, M16, M18,
PMA-1, PMA-2, PMA-3, BLU-92/B
- UXO: M67 grenade, 81 mm HE
mortar, 81 mm WF mortar, 40 mm HE round, BLU 97 submuntion,
LUU-II flare, MJU-7 flare, 76 mm recoilless rifle round, AIM 9
Gulf Sidewinder Seeker Head (copy), 105 mm Artillery Round,
155 mm Artillery Round, M1A2 Bangolore, 40 lb. Cratering
Charge, Mk 82 500lb. bomb.
Suggested Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the
neutralization of the above mines and UXO can be found at the web site
www.FIXOR.com. Users may submit their own successful SOPs/UXO
neutralization techniques and photographs for inclusion on this site.
FIXOR is currently being utilized in central and northeast Africa and
in Southeast Asia.
After extensive trials, the MREL Group of Companies
formed a number of conclusions about the use and effectiveness of
FIXOR. These include the following:
• When using
a detonating cord to initiate detonation of FIXOR, the end of the cord
should be tied into a "Uli" knot (similar to a hangman’s
knot) with at least six turns in it to ensure detonation. The distance
from the end of the detonator (or from the end of the Uli knot in the
detonating cord) to the top of the FIXOR cap should be marked by the
deminer at a length of nine cm to ensure proper placement inside
• When the
simultaneous detonation of multiple FIXORs is required for a
particular demining task, the deminer should not rely upon the timing
accuracy of multiple electric or non-electric detonators—even if the
detonators are "zero" delay detonators. It is preferable to
use a piece of Uli-knotted detonating cord in each of the FIXORs and
initiate the lengths of detonating cord simultaneously with one
detonator. A "sensitized" detonating cord, which is
comprised of an appropriate strength detonator crimped to the end of
the cord, can also be used in place of knotted detonating cord.
• When attacking larger,
thick-walled UXO such as the 105 and 155 mm HE Artillery Rounds or a
Mk 82 500 lb. bomb, additional
FIXORs should be mixed and their explosive contents used to completely
fill the FIXORs deployed against the UXO. This topping up
process provides up to 500 g of FIXOR explosive in a FIXOR as opposed
to the standard 400 g and allows the FIXORs to be placed on their
sides and detonated reliably.
For details on the aforementioned
notes, please consult the FIXOR
Given these findings, MREL concluded that FIXOR is an effective
method for neutralizing landmines and UXO in place that integrates
seamlessly with current blow-in-place procedures. When compared to
conventional explosives, FIXOR has significantly less hazards and less
logistical requirements during transport and storage—factors that add
to its status as an effective measure against dangerous mines and UXO.
The authors wish to express their sincere gratitude to the management
and staff of the Canadian Centre for Mine Action Technologies (CCMAT)
and the Defense Research Establishment Suffield for their field trials
of the effectiveness of FIXOR for demining and UXO neutralization. The
Authors also express their gratitude to UNMIK/MACC, CCKFOR/NCE and
CCKFOR/OC for their efforts in coordinating the field trials of FIXOR in
Kosovo. The authors express their gratitude to the EOD community of the
USAF, USMC, United States and USN for trials conducted at Nellis AFB,
Fort Campbell and Blossom Point.
1. Fried, Lawrence J., CHEETAH 2.0, Lawrence Livermore National
2. Cooper, Paul W., Explosives Engineering, VCH Publishers, NY
3. MREL, internal research.
* The FIXORTM
name is the sole property of MREL Specialty
Explosive Products Limited.
A.W. (Bill) Bauer, M.Sc., P.Eng. Vice-President
MREL Specialty Explosive Products Limited
1555 Sydenham Road
Kingston, Ontario K7L 4V4
Tel: +1-613-545-0466 ext. 101
Toll Free CAN/USA: 1-877-544-MREL ext. 101
Web site: http://www.mrel.com