Knowledge of Chemistry of Explosives – A Magic of Safety

Both Glucose and Explosives liberate energy but rate of liberation is slower with glucose but instantaneous with explosives. Another differentiation is that the glucose contains C carbon, H hydrogen and O oxygen atoms in molecule but the explosive necessarily contains N nitrogen atoms.

The C6H122O6 is a glucose molecule but CH2ONO2CHONO2CH2ONO2 is Nitroglycerine (NG) which explodes to form a mixture of steam, nitrogen CO2, and O2 at 30000C. So a rate of Chemical Transformation from one form to another Chemical Structure is significant to define a role of a chemical.

The NG is also known as Dynamite, discovered by Alfred Nobel, Swedish engineer, in year 1867. The fortune acquired by manufacture of NG led Nobel to establish a world famous Nobel prize.

When Ammonium Nitrate as an Oxidant is added to the NG, then it is called as Ammonia Dynamite but on addition of Sodium Nitrate, it is named as Straight Dynamite.

Perhaps keeping a current situation in the mind, it is essential to be in possession of fundamental knowledge of chemical explosives.

It is in interest of the Safety, and Welfare of the society. There are 2 categories of Explosives based on their Detonating nature. The first is low Detonating and the second is high detonating with low (rate of detonation, 900 ft/sec) and high (4 miles/second) rate of chemical transformation respectively.

Detonating explosives are further divided into Primary and Secondary explosives. Typical primary explosives are Lead Azide [Pb(N3)2] and Mercury Fulminate [Hg(CNO)2] but secondary needs a Booster to bring them to detonating level. Secondary explosives are Tetry, PETN and Cyclonite.

Chemically the explosives belong to category of Internal Oxidation-Reduction [IOR] compounds with a Pyrotechnically Active Group of atoms within the molecular structure. Technically group of atoms are named as Explosophore, the Azides, Bromates, Chlorates, Chlorites, Iodates, Nitrate, Nitrites, Perchlorates and Picrates. Other examples of IOR are NG, Picric Acid, Ethylene Glycol Dinitrite, as these contain several Nitro Groups. Fundamentally Artillery Ammunition contains- Primer (KCLO3, Potassium Chlorate), Igniter (Black Powder), Propellants (Smokeless Powder), Bursting Charge, Booster and Detonator.

The Rifle Cartridge contains Primer plus Propellant. The explosives contain A, B and C classes, where few explosives are highly sensitive to shock and heat so these are forbidden for Shipping, etc. but Military Aircraft carry all types of explosives.

Few explosives: TNT (Trinitrotoluene), was discovered in Germany, in 1092, and was used during world wars I and II. A Mixture of 80% Ammonium Nitrate plus 20% TNT is Amatol. Cyclonite (Cyclotrimethylene Trinitramine) is known as RDX, the Beeswax Desensitize it. Tetryl (2, 4, 6. Trinitrophenylmethylnitramine) is used as booster of Artillery Ammunition and Armed Forces. With Molten TNT and Graphite, it acts as Bursting charge denoted as Tetrytol.

PETN (Pentaerthritol Tetranitrate) are used as detonating fuse. Picric acid (Trinitrophenol) is Poisonous and Corrosive. Lead Styphnate, is extremely sensitive even Sparks with Static Electricity. Thus this piece of information could generate a little awareness about bombing etc by disgruntled elements.