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Author: Subject: One EM to rule them all...
3287
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One EM to rule them all...

If every energetic material in the world, save one, were to be suddenly inert and useless, which one would you keep?

Bear in mind that nothing else is changing - it'll be just as hard to get chemicals in the new world as in this one. The only thing that's different is, there's only one kind of energetic material that works now.

Uncle Fester has stated his opinion that nitroglycerin is the one that he'd keep, in Home Workshop Explosives, and Ragnar Benson seems to suggest in his Homemade "C-4" books that ammonium nitrate is the go-to energetic. I was wondering what people with a bit more credibility might have to say.
hissingnoise
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The answer is so obvious even Fester knows it.
Benson hasn't a clue, apparently!
quicksilver
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I don't think it's really credibility but how you phrase the question (most of those fellows are either drug-cooks or nut jobs, IMO). IF one is making the determination that the material will no longer function in another lab (?) then a nitric ester may have the nod, but if you are talking about a single material in itself then a material that can comprise as "starting point" like picric acid may be a more flexible material. Steve Preston (Fester) was thinking of NG as a starting point for a initiator but still that could be said of many nitric esters (MHN...?). We would have to define the question more specifically.

Extrapolating further, nitric acid may be a useful starting point if one would imagine that not all secondaries are DESIGNED to be energetic, in themselves, but could be pressed into service by creativity. So I suppose how you phrase the question becomes the focus of the discussion.
...Sodium Azide is used a common bio-tech cleaning agent but is a fine propellant by itself. But then why omit a gaseous material? Logic would point to nitrogen as all others in this are compounds. Are talking about elements?

Actually this is one reason why laws aimed at energetic materials or mind altering drugs or weapons or most any OBJECT is a faltering exercise & used for obtaining votes from the uninformed.
The Asian countries has some of the strictest drug control laws in the world (but look at the statistics of users & material), Mexico & the UK have some of the strictest gun control laws but look at their violent crime rates. You can't legislate behaviour. You can't legislate nitrogen!

[Edited on 31-12-2008 by quicksilver]
pantone159
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Apparently "Uncle Fester"'s real name is Steve Preisler (not Preston).
The_Davster
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The responses you are likely to get are simply the poster's favorite one. Would it not be simpler to word it in such a way as opposed to the chemical impossibility that you propose?

Interesting note on fester's real name...some interesting results when googled.

hissingnoise
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I based my answer on the fact that ngl is the most useful, most versatile explosive available.
It's beyond doubt. . .
3287
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Well, "what's your favorite explosive?" would not trigger much more discussion than one-word answers, and where's the fun in that?

Hissingnoise, thanks for the welcome. Nitroglycerin definitely has a whole lot going for it, being one of the most historically significant explosives bar none. What makes it the most useful, in your opinion, though? It certainly has some disadvantages as well.

Quicksilver: "You can't legislate nitrogen!" That really ought to be on a t-shirt.
The_Davster
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If only one explosive cpd is allowed to exist. It must be on the border between primary and secondary, or a primary, otherwise one could not det it.

Unless of course one would consider large objects falling on explosives a reliable initiating method. Which actually was used historically on pure NG before Nobel came about and patented the use of detonators.

Of course EBW could be used to overcome the above problems.

So my choice: NTNAP. 1-Nitrotetrazolato-2-nitro-2-azapropane.
Detonates from flame, not too too sensitive, presumably could be diluted with non-explosive materials analagous to NG in dynamite, and posseses a high VOD(somewhere in 8000s IIRC).
EDIT: Downside: Syntheis difficulty(precursor availability)

[Edited on 1-1-09 by The_Davster]

Formatik
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Since we are theoreticizing, dinitroacetylene, wherever it may be. Perfect oxygen balance. Two nitro groups in addition to a triple bond.
hissingnoise
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 Quote: Originally posted by 3287 What makes it the most useful, in your opinion, though? It certainly has some disadvantages as well.

I think the merits ngl has are so many and varied, listing them would take all day.
The demerits are not, IMAO, really that significant.
Mechanical (spring-loaded) detonators, electrically actuated, could replace conventional types; det-cord could have guhr-dynamite intead of petn and mica-dynamite has a high velocity.
Frozen ngl, though it needs a powerful booster also has high VoD.
It will detonate by heat with proper confinement.
The fact that the synthesis-substrate is a food is advantageous, too, IMO.
I could go on, and on, ad nauseum?
Actually, I don't feel up to it right now---'gotta go. . .
grndpndr
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As the precursors are so easily procured and the synthesis so
simple with a high enough VoD for the majority of specialized uses.SC,EFP steel cutting,line charges besides being one of its own precursors for simple synthesis to a pimary or a castable
HV HE suitable or SC etc the family of TNP,lead picrate, DDNP.
ammonium picrate despite some serious dwabacks most can be overcome with simple planning/precautions and considering its simplicity usin OTC chemicals it surely has a place among an all around HE for simple home manuacture.And would be my choice as an all round he
mainly because of its OTC simplicity,HV,and product
variations.No to mention attemptin to control the precursors
would be virtually impossible.Not least of which the niration itself is nearly foolproof IMHE.

[Edited on 6-2-2009 by grndpndr]
hissingnoise
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Each to his own, I guess---I personally wouldn't put picric acid in the top ten. . .
grndpndr
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Elighten us then as to your choices that will fill the role of the OPs orginal question? Name me a HE with an adequate det velocity that will funtion well in a SC/EFp.Will also form the main precursor for the primary from the initial nitration explosive .The High velocity crystaline explosive with a vod at nearly 7500mps more than enough for any booster and cable of makin a crude plastic explsive effective in cutting train rails,chains.Gun tubes,trees etc etc.Then synthessed to ammonium picrate a versatile, castable explosive capable of 7200mps adequate for SC/EFPs.All eaily made from OTC pecursors available anywhere with the simplest of equipment the most sophisticted possbly the thermometer.
even the top ten? Ok name me 5 HEs that have all of these charcteristics/versatility?
3287
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Grndpndr, it seems that you're getting a little defensive. There's no need, I just want to foster discussion and also educate myself while hopefully contributing a bit to the forum. There's no perfect answer, I know that. This is much an opinion-based question.

Two flaws of picric acid are its extreme sensitivity and the relative cost of home manufacture. To make in any great quantity, well... you'd need a whole load of aspirin.
497
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PA isn't that sensitive.. unless you're dumb enough to put it in the wrong kind of metal container.

Also aspirin and salicylic acid can both be bought for about $10/lb in powder form, so the materials are not particularly expensive.. The biggest problem I have with PA is that it stains EVERYTHING yellow. If you've never worked with it, you might think that's no big deal, but believe me, it is.  Quote: I based my answer on the fact that ngl is the most useful, most versatile explosive available. It's beyond doubt. . . Is it really? How is NG better than ETN? Of course there are a few advantages to being liquid, but it seems to me there are more disadvantages... hissingnoise International Hazard Posts: 3940 Registered: 26-12-2002 Member Is Offline Mood: Pulverulescent!  Quote: Originally posted by 497 PA isn't that sensitive.. unless you're dumb enough to put it in the wrong kind of metal container. The wrong kind of metal container being, IIRC, anything not of tin or aluminium. . . As for ETN, yes it has a lot going for it, but it is as sensitive as nitro, though being a solid it is more difficult to desensitise. Microtek International Hazard Posts: 663 Registered: 23-9-2002 Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood Solid energetics can be desensitized by incorporating them in a PBX. As for picric acid, I would have to say that it depends a lot on the exact premise of this theoretical exercise. If taken litterally, I would say that chemical transmutation wouldn't produce another explosive, since that would mean that more than one energetic existed. Otherwise, I would go for hexamine dinitrate since you colud then produce HMTD, RDX and HMX as well as a host of other, less common, derivatives. Personally, I think I would say PETN since it can be used as the receptor charge in EBWs and EFIs as well as in thermal detonators and obviously is powerful, has a high VOD, good stability and is easily and cheaply manufactured in good yield. hissingnoise International Hazard Posts: 3940 Registered: 26-12-2002 Member Is Offline Mood: Pulverulescent! Guhr dynamite is easier to prepare than a PBX and ETN prep is simpler than PETN. Pentaerythritol isn't easily obtained and making it is a pain. Acetaldehyde is getting iffy now too. Apart from that PETN is a good choice with a slightly higher VoD than ETN. Microtek International Hazard Posts: 663 Registered: 23-9-2002 Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood  Quote: Pentaerythritol isn't easily obtained and making it is a pain. Where I am erythritol is very difficult to find. PE on the other hand is not. Having said that, I suppose that ETN has many things going for it as do MHN, NG, nitro glycol and so on. I personally don't think PBXs are difficult or ardous to prepare, but I do think that dynamites are messy (and I don't like the contact toxicity of NG plastiques). When choosing between ETN and PETN I would say that the castability of ETN is a big plus for that compound, however, the greater stability (and slightly better VOD, density and so on) of PETN decides the issue in my mind. hissingnoise International Hazard Posts: 3940 Registered: 26-12-2002 Member Is Offline Mood: Pulverulescent! If the question stipulated equal availability for all HEs the answers might be very different. Someone in Northern Alaska might find nitroglycol more attractive than ngl, and in the tropics the reverse would apply. And then, of course, we all have our own personal favourites; cyclonite, in my case. . . hellfire23 Harmless Posts: 16 Registered: 10-2-2009 Member Is Offline Mood: bleh I assume that if you would keep ammonium nitrate and make ANFO how exactly do you plan to detonate it, with a full detonation, if every other explosive is gone? [Edited on 13-2-2009 by hellfire23] hissingnoise International Hazard Posts: 3940 Registered: 26-12-2002 Member Is Offline Mood: Pulverulescent! ANFO would seem a poor choice because it lacks power (and sensitivity) and NH4NO3 by itself isn't regarded as an HE. We can assume the question referred to secondary high explosives, so any primary could be used in a cap. NH4NO3 is an oxidiser and ANFO is a mixture of fuel and oxidiser and it should probably be ignored for that reason. Oh,and welcome to SciMad. . . grndpndr International Hazard Posts: 508 Registered: 9-7-2006 Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood No offense intended hissingnoise. TNP has many problems with it not to mention that diabolical yellow stain that resists any human efforts to remove but I have to stand by my initial assesment of its OTC simplicity, TNT plus performance, not to mention adaptability. And I took the OP to mean ONE HE that could replace all others to include the ability to synthesize primarys from the original HE. As for it being$ any vet outlet online can supply 1lb containers of pure asa cheaply.Ace drain cleaner and a sack of 4lb pott nitrate fertilizer would be as cost effective as anything that comes to mind.

[Edited on 13-2-2009 by grndpndr]
Rosco Bodine
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From an improvisational perspective, picric acid rules
as the most versatile material, since it and its derivatives
can be assembled into a practical and reliable, reasonably storage stable firing train and the precursors are readily obtained from numerous mundane sources.

Given the premise of the thread, being which one material
is "king of the jungle" well what else can I say

[Edited on 14-2-2009 by Rosco Bodine]
hissingnoise
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OK, grndpndr and Rosco, if you were to find (by accident), say, a kilo of explosive, which explosive would you most like it to be---an acid substance which stains everything it touches, attacking most metals forming sensitive and dangerous salts while having a couple of per cent more power than TNT.
Or would you wish it to be a really potent HE like HNIW, octogen or sorguyl. . .?
Nitroglycol, remember, has more than twice the power of TNT!
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 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Special topics » Energetic Materials » One EM to rule them all... Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues