Explosives/Related Articles

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A list of Citizendium articles, and planned articles, about Explosives.
See also changes related to Explosives, or pages that link to Explosives or to this page or whose text contains "Explosives".

Parent topics

  • Chemistry [r]: The science of matter, or of the electrical or electrostatical interactions of matter. [e]
  • Demolitions [r]: The engineering discipline of demolishing and clearing structures that are no longer needed, in both military and civilian contexts [e]

Subtopics

  • Explosively formed projectile [r]: A technique of using controlled explosives to direct a blast wave, or materials near it, into a desired shape [e]
  • Firearm [r]: Device, often designed to be used as a weapon, which projects either single or multiple projectiles at high velocity, using the energy of gases generated by a controlled explosion. [e]
  • Improvised explosive device [r]: A destructive device, not completely made from purpose-built military components, that is intended to cause destruction by means of an explosive charge and perhaps other components that increase damage [e]
  • TNT equivalent [r]: A unit of energy commonly used to quantify the energy released (or "yielded") in explosions. [e]

Characteristics of explosives and explosions

  • Combustion [r]: A sequence of exothermic chemical reactions between a fuel and an oxidant accompanied by the production of heat or both heat and light in the form of either a glow or flames. [e]
    • Deflagration [r]: Rapid, but not explosive (i.e., subsonic) self-sustaining combustion in explosive materials, especially low explosives such as black gunpowder and desensitized smokeless powder; the combustion wave propagates by thermal conduction; can produce explosion if confined but is more likely to produce controllable gases [e]
    • Detonation [r]: Extremely fast combustion in solids or fluids, which produces a supersonic shock wave with a detonation velocity; self-propagating through compression, heating and ignition of the explosive [e]
    • Detonation velocity [r]: The rate at which the detonation reaction propagates through an explosive material; in general, brisance is proportional to it [e]
  • Brisance [r]: The shattering power of an explosive; a measure of the rate at which it develops its maximum detonation velocity; usually expressed with respect to TNT (explosive), which has a brisance of 1.00 [e]
  • Explosive power [r]: The total power available from an explosive, measured with various tests of its ability to move mass rather than shatter it [e]
  • Overpressure [r]: The difference from normal air pressure caused by the shock wave generated by an explosion. [e]
  • Sympathetic detonation [r]: Explosion occurring when an "acceptor" explosive material detonates from the blast of a nearby "donor" explosion, with no interconnection between the donor and acceptor [e]
  • Blast (explosives) [r]: The process by which explosives convert to pressure in air or shock waves in more dense materials [e]
    • Blast injuries [r]: Injuries resulting when a person is struck by the pressure differentials of the shock wave of an explosion (primary); is struck by particles impelled with violent force from an explosion (secondary); is physically thrown about by the blast (tertiary); or is affected by fire, building collapse or other effects of the explosion on the victim's surroundings (quaternary) [e]
  • Cast density [r]: A property of explosives most often reported as a dimensionless number, but sometimes in grams per centimeter3; the same explosive chemical may be manufactured in different densities and crystal structures; complex detonation waves can be formed by mixing precisely machined shapes of dense and light explosives, of different detonation velocity, often intermixed with voids or inert material [e]
  • Spalling [r]: In general, the ejection of particles from a surface struck directly by a blast wave [e]

Chemical classes of explosives

Organic nitrates

Inorganic explosives

  • Ammonium nitrate [r]: A chemical with a wide spectrum of uses, most significantly as an agricultural fertilizer and as an constituent of explosives; chemical formula NH4NO3 [e]
  • Ammonium perchlorate [r]: Primarily used as an oxidizing agent in solid rockets but also as an explosive component, with the formula NH4NO3 [e]
  • Lead azide [r]: Pb(N3)2, the most common modern initiating/primary explosive; good compromise among initiators with respect to storage stability, impact sensitivity, and tertiary explosives it can detonate without a booster; several variants of mechanical properties and additives [e]
  • Lead styphnate [r]: Also called trinitroresorcinol, a primary explosive, introduced in 1914, with relatively poor detonating qualities, generally replaced by lead azide; sometimes used for commercial explosives and as an igniter for lead azide [e]
  • Tetracene [r]: Chemically guanyldiazoguanyl tetrazene and 4-guanyl-1 -(nitrosoaminoguanyl)-1 tetrazene, and used as a secondary explosive booster following primary explosive ignition; commercial use as too weak to detonate virtually all military explosives [e]

Peroxides

  • Triacetyl triperoxide [r]: A dangerously unstable but relatively easy to make -- if accidental explosion is avoided -- explosive for terrorist use in liquid or solid form; contains no nitro groups making it hard to detect by many sensors; precursors are relatively commonly available commercial chemicals [e]

Types of high explosive

See also: Explosives in U.S. nuclear weapons

Primary explosives (initators)

  • Primary explosive [r]: An explosive that takes relatively little energy to detonate, although recent versions require a specialized application of energy; used to start the explosion sequence in a weapon or demolitions charge, transferring energy to the optional secondary explosive or directly to the tertiary explosive [e]
    • Mercury fulminate [r]: A highly shock-sensitive compound that was widely used as the initial element in the triggering of explosives or firearms ammunition; it has largely been replaced by lead azide preparations [e]
    • Lead azide [r]: Pb(N3)2, the most common modern initiating/primary explosive; good compromise among initiators with respect to storage stability, impact sensitivity, and tertiary explosives it can detonate without a booster; several variants of mechanical properties and additives [e]
    • Lead styphnate [r]: Also called trinitroresorcinol, a primary explosive, introduced in 1914, with relatively poor detonating qualities, generally replaced by lead azide; sometimes used for commercial explosives and as an igniter for lead azide [e]
    • DDNP [r]: Diazodinitrophenol (DDNP) is a primary explosive, less sensitive but more powerful than lead azide [e]
    • Nitroglycerin [r]: A very unstable, shock-sensitive high-explosive which also has medical uses as a vasodilator in heart disease [e]

Secondary explosives (boosters)

  • Secondary explosive [r]: Not always present but required in some applications, an explosive that is less sensitive than the primary explosive in the detonator, and used to amplify an initiating shock wave into the insensitive tertiary explosive [e]
    • Tetrytol [r]: Mixture of approximately 70% tetryl with 30% TNT; no longer in general production [e]
    • RDX (explosive) [r]: "Royal Demolition eXplosive" or "Research Department eXplosive", also known as Hexogen or Cyclonite; chemically hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine; considered the most powerful common military explosive; a member of the nitramine class of organic nitrate explosives [e]
    • PETN [r]: Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, used as an initiating explosive and as a vasodilator for various heart diseases [e]
    • Tetryl [r]: A high explosive, N-methyl-N,2,4,6-tetranitroaniline, no longer manufactured in the U.S. due to thermal instability; used as a booster charge (i.e., secondary explosive) alone and in mixtures [e]
    • Cyclotol [r]: 75% RDX, 25% TNT; similar to Composition B but with RDX content; began to replace Composition B in nuclear weapons in 1953; later used in B28 and B53; Substituted for PBX-9404 when unacceptable impact sensitivity problems arose [e]
    • Tetracene [r]: Chemically guanyldiazoguanyl tetrazene and 4-guanyl-1 -(nitrosoaminoguanyl)-1 tetrazene, and used as a secondary explosive booster following primary explosive ignition; commercial use as too weak to detonate virtually all military explosives [e]

Tertiary explosives (main charges)

Dynamites
  • Straight dynamite [r]: A class of nitroglycerin based explosives, for commercial applications, containing 20 to 60 percent nitroglycerin, sodium nitrate, antacid, carbonaceous fuel, and a filler or sulfur; if it will be used at low temperatures, some of the dynamite will be replaced with a low-temperature explosive [e]
  • Ditching dynamite [r]: A dynamite containing 50% nitroglycerin, deliberately made shock-sensitive so it can be used for commercial excavation without complex interconnection, relying on sympathetic detonation to fire all charges [e]
  • Goma-2 ECO [r]: A Spanish-manufactured blasting gelatin, intended for mining but probably used in the 2004 Madrid bombings [e]
Plastic explosives
Insensitive high explosives
Specialized

Additives

Other related topics

  • Gravity bomb [r]: A bomb with no supplemental propulsion, whose trajectory is determined by initial velocity and gravity, or by the action of aerodynamic control surfaces. [e]
  • Warhead [r]: That part of a military weapon, which actively moves to strike a target, that causes the desired destructive effect on the target [e]
  • Nuclear weapon [r]: A weapon that produces extremely powerful explosions from principles involving subatomic particle reactions, rather than the chemical reactions among atoms that power conventional explosives [e]
  • Rocket engine [r]: A means of generating thrust, for propulsion or for adjusting a position, based on the hot gases expelled by a mixture of chemicals that does not need an external oxygen source [e]
  • Explosively formed projectile [r]: A technique of using controlled explosives to direct a blast wave, or materials near it, into a desired shape [e]
  • CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force [r]: Under United States Northern Command, a U.S. Army organization, complemented with National Guard units, for responding to domestic chemical, biological, nuclear, radiological and high-yield explosive events in the United States and Canada [e]