The institute draws on the competence of its employees in the research and development of improved energetic materials and systems for the German army, and thus helps to ensure the strong analysis and decision-making capability of the German Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg). In addition, current issues in the thematic fields of defence and security are addressed. Research is focused on the development, synthesis, characterization, formulation and production techniques of components for rocket propellants, gun propellants, high explosives, pyrotechnics and new ignition and initiation systems. Fraunhofer ICT is the only German research institution to cover the entire development chain from the raw product through to the system prototype. Further topics in its portfolio include safety and security systems based on gas generators, flame retardant coatings, filter materials and pyrotechnic flares with spectral emissions that spectrally resolving seekers cannot distinguish from those of real engines.
In the development of propellant and explosive systems, performance, sensitivity, handling safety, functionality and environmental compatibility are adjusted and optimized for individual application profiles and requirements. To this end, components are synthesized and modified in Fraunhofer ICT's laboratories, new binder systems and formulations are developed and the energetic products are fabricated in the institute's pilot plants. The research groups for interior ballistics, detonics, rocket propellants and pyrotechnics then characterize the reaction behavior, sensitivity and performance data of the energetic materials in the laboratory, detonation chamber or on open-air testing ranges, up to the kilogram scale. In addition, modern simulation software is available, which can be used to analyze and evaluate the performance and safety of new energetic materials all the way to the system. Current research topics include environmentally-friendly, low-signature high-performance rocket propellants for military and civil applications, nitrocellulosefree gun propellants, insensitive high-performance explosives, gel propellants for rockets enabling controllable thrust phases, sensors in rocket engines that enable non-destructive monitoring of the aging of the propellant, and investigations into the compatibility and stability of energetic substances as well as the prediction of their aging behavior.
A further competence is the detection of explosives even in trace amounts using special sensor concepts, for example on the basis of molecular adsorbers. At Fraunhofer ICT, so-called ”home made” explosives are fabricated, evaluated with regard to their handling properties and detectability, and made available to the security authorities for testing purposes. Activities extend to the development of concepts to detect illegal explosives laboratories, the design of civil or military security areas and checkpoints, and the standardized evaluation of detection systems on an international level, such as those used for security checks at airports. The development of protection systems against terrorist actions is the focus of complementary activities.