Technical Aspects of Insitu Performance Testing of High Explosives – A History Lesson

John Warkentin

Explosives have and continue to be an important part of modern mans’ means of war as well as one of key tools in the exploitation the earth’s mineral wealth.

Their proper use and application are highly dependent on a number of key factors – most importantly explosive performance.

John Warkentin will present an overview of the history of energetic materials testing leading up to his work in taking the Velocity of Detonation measurement out of the laboratory and into real world production blasting environments.

John got his start in the explosives industry thanks to his life long interest in electronics, both as a amateur and furthered during his summer employment in the mid 80’s with Exxon at their research facility in Calgary Alberta.

In the late 80’s he joined a small University affiliated research firm in Kingston Ontario. His first major project with MREL was a destructive, computer controlled, thermal stability study for the US Navy’s cruise missile warheads.

At this point in time, the control systems industry was undergoing a rapid transformation from dedicated (analog and digital) control hardware to the adoption of general purpose computers with interface peripherals to do the same jobs. Simultaneously, the equipment was constantly getting smaller, faster and using less power.

With these new tools in mind, John spearheaded the in-house development of a portable data acquisition system by MREL to enable field (vs. lab) monitoring of the Velocity of Detonation of energetic materials.

Upon his departure from MREL in the early 90’s, John formed Detonics Research and further refined, miniaturized and expanded the feature set of his line of VOD recorders and travelled extensively selling, supporting and consulting with these tools.

John currently resides in Melbourne and is now an commercial photographer. He continues to push the envelope of technology in all of his endeavors.

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