The High Explosives Applications Facility (HEAF) is a Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration center of excellence for the research, development, synthesis, formulation, and characterization of explosives. Research at HEAF supports the development of new explosives through synthesis and formulation laboratories, explosives properties testing, hydrotest and diagnostic development, diamond anvil experiments for basic explosives properties research, a microdetonics laboratory for explosives studies at micron scale, and multiple firing tanks for explosives testing at larger scales.
HEAF contains a wide variety of developmental and experimental capabilities. It has seven large fully contained firing tanks for testing explosive quantities from less than a gram up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds). The facility also has a 100-mm research gun that fires projectiles at up to 2,500 meters per second into a specially designed tank for high-velocity impact studies. From its conception, HEAF was designed to integrate the operations of synthesis, formulation, and explosives testing in a single facility. No other facility in the world supports such a multidisciplinary mission under one roof.
The facility participates in the stockpile stewardship mission, assuring the reliability and safety of the nation's nuclear weapons. It develops special-purpose weapons, for example, for armor penetration and infantry protective equipment design, as well as new, more stable explosives for military and commercial use. HEAF scientists, who include chemists, physicists, engineers, and technicians, also apply their expertise to counterterrorism, studying ways to detect and defeat improvised explosive devices. HEAF opened in 1989, and is still the only facility of its kind in the world.