The Department of Defense (DoD) is concerned about the environmental behavior and impacts of newly introduced insensitive high explosive (IHE) compounds: 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one (NTO) and 2,4-dinitroanisole (DNAN). Previous investigations have established that both DNAN and NTO are subject to cometabolic biotransformation (reduction) in soil and waste streams, which generates an array of metabolites of poorly understood toxicity and of increased solubility and mobility. In contrast, the project team has discovered that some microbial systems biodegrade DNAN and NTO to benign mineralized products (CO2, N2, NH4+, NO2-, and/or NO3-). Such systems can lower or eliminate environmental risks associated with IHE compounds.
The overarching objective of this project is to develop an understanding of the mineralization processes that will enable DoD to deploy microbial strategies for the complete biodegradation of IHE compounds. These strategies could involve natural attenuation, biostimulation, and/or bioaugmentation at contaminated field sites or enable effective biological treatment of munitions wastewater.