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Unexploded bomb successfully defused with laser

A 500-pound unexploded bomb has successfully been defused using a laser in a field trial that marks the end of the DELFAG project.

The project was undertaken by the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH), its spin-off company Laser on Demand and the Hamburg ordnance clearance service.

Within the project, a defusal method was developed in which a 2kW solid-state laser is used to create a notch along the casing of a bomb, which is then deflagrated in a controlled way.


The laser-based approach could provide more security for explosive ordnance disposal technicians in the future.

In the field trial, instead of a large detonation, the shell exploded along the predetermined notch, with only a small part of the explosive actually exploding. The chemical detonator then popped out of the bomb casing (pictured below).

The otherwise unpredictable chemical detonator simply popped out after the controlled ignition with the laser. (Photo: LZH) 

A low-cost, 3D-printed laser processing head with standard optical components was used in the trial, developed by the LZH and Laser on Demand to withstand exposure to strong heat and pressure.

Next step: Underwater use

The promising results of the field trial will now be the basis for further research projects. For example, the partners want to adapt the process and the system technology for underwater use, as more than 1.5 million tonnes of World War II ammunition is still suspected to be in the North and Baltic Seas.

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