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From: arno@utu.fi (Arno Hahma)
Subject: Re: The infamous Astrolite/C-4
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 1995 21:20:35 GMT

In article <3sb7nf$dqo@geraldo.cc.utexas.edu>,
Gerald L. Hurst <glhurst@onr.com> wrote:

>Astrolite could hold its own with the best of the standard 
>military explosives on a pound for pound basis, but it lacked

Not any more. There are other, more energetic formulations.

>The Astrolite explosives family was of interest for a number of
>reasons based on unusual properties which would not be of much
>use except for special military or covert applications which are

All such properties can be had in a less hazardous form. 

For instance, a mixture made of FEFO (bis(fluorodinitroethyl)formal,
bis(fluorodinitropropyl)formal and fluorodinitroethyldinitropropyl
formal is an eutectic mixture and a liquid at RT. The mixture is pretty
insensitive and non-toxic, at least compared to hydrazine compounds.
Guess, what such a liquid, insensitive, stable and high performance
explosive could be used for... ;>.

>I don't believe the procedures (with some patent exceptions) were
>ever published, but I have seen a lot of published speculation.

It is easy: mix hydrazine hydrate with ammonium perchlorate or nitrate
or mixtures thereof. Instead of hydrazine hydrate, anhydrous hydrazine
can also be used yielding a more powerful mixture. Unless you know what
anhydrous hydrazine can do, don't do it. I'd say: not for household use
;).

>unpublished expertise to stay alive playing with these materials.  

Yup. That can only be obtained one way: experiments and practice.  It
can be done, but it is not convenient.

>Jerry

ArNO
    2

From: glhurst@onr.com (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: The infamous Astrolite/C-4
Date: 23 Jun 1995 07:01:53 GMT
Organization: Consulting Chemist

In article <DALFAC.5Fu@utu.fi>, arno@utu.fi (Arno Hahma) says:

>In article <3sb7nf$dqo@geraldo.cc.utexas.edu>,
>Gerald L. Hurst <glhurst@onr.com> wrote:
>
>>Astrolite could hold its own with the best of the standard 
>>military explosives on a pound for pound basis, but it lacked
>
>Not any more. There are other, more energetic formulations.

There may well be, but you have no way of knowing what specific
formulation I was talking about and are therefore not in a
position to judge.

>>The Astrolite explosives family was of interest for a number of
>>reasons based on unusual properties which would not be of much
>>use except for special military or covert applications which are
>
>All such properties can be had in a less hazardous form. 

All? How can you possibly know what properties I was referring 
to? How about propagation at a thickness of 0.1 mm under
12,000 psi?

>For instance, a mixture made of FEFO (bis(fluorodinitroethyl)formal,
>bis(fluorodinitropropyl)formal and fluorodinitroethyldinitropropyl
>formal is an eutectic mixture and a liquid at RT. The mixture is pretty
>insensitive and non-toxic, at least compared to hydrazine compounds.
>Guess, what such a liquid, insensitive, stable and high performance
>explosive could be used for... ;>.

OK, let me take a wild guess: It could be used in small 
quantities in admixture with TNT based explosives to lower 
the impact sensitivity of bombs used against hard targets
where penetration prior to detonation is required. The
mixture would be an excellent energetic plasticizer and
would cost an arm and a leg.  

It may interest you to know that I developed the Aerojet 
method of synthesizing FEFO without isolating the A-diol. 
The method involves oxidative nitration followed by 
aqueous fluorination to form the precursor 
fluorodinitroethanol. The rest, of course is a piece of 
cake.  The mixed formal compositions you mentioned could
be made by obvious variations of the final stage reactions

Now, you mentioned FEFO in the context of comparing it to one
of the Astrolites.  This kind of academic nonsense may impress
the the teenybombers, but you can hardly expect an explosives
chemist to take you seriously. They are different materials 
with vastly different properties, uses and enormously 
different prices.

You might as well compare Astrolite to 
perfluoro3,4-tetrahydro-1,2,-diazete.  Like FEFO it is very
expensive, even more exotic, even less reactive and a heck
of a lot more dangerous. 

It does not come as much of a surprise that the eutectectic
you described is a liquid at room temperature since FEFO
itself is an oily liquid.

One other tidbit may interest you: I synthesized FEFO in
pilot plant quantities before Astrolite became the new
kid on the block. Since I was Chief Scientist of the
company that invented and manufactured Astrolite, I would
have been the first to tell them if FEFO was better 
suited for our purposes. It most definitely wasn't.


Enough, already. I started this discussion by saying the
Astrolites compared favorably with "standard" military 
explosives on a weight for weight basis. I hope that none 
of our readers get the impression that there is anything 
standard about specialty materials such as FEFO. "Standard" 
refers to materials like TNT, RDX, Comp. B, Comp C-4, 
tetryl and the like and, of course various aluminized 
materials. One can certainly make more powerful explosives,
but there is usually a catch in the form of either some
hazard or plain old high cost. Grumble.

>>I don't believe the procedures (with some patent exceptions) were
>>ever published, but I have seen a lot of published speculation.
>
>It is easy: mix hydrazine hydrate with ammonium perchlorate or nitrate
>or mixtures thereof. Instead of hydrazine hydrate, anhydrous hydrazine
>can also be used yielding a more powerful mixture. Unless you know what
>anhydrous hydrazine can do, don't do it. I'd say: not for household use
>;).

I can't really comment on compositions other than to say that it
would be inadvisable for most people to work with the moderately 
energetic but highly reactive mixtures you have described. I
guarantee that there are much safer formulations which will make
a lot more noise pound for pound with a lot less danger.

From: glhurst@onr.com (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: GET YOUR HOMEADE ASTROLITE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Date: 6 Nov 1995 20:09:18 GMT
Organization: Consulting Chemist
Lines: 29

In article <b57cb$143414.ec@news.express.ca>, lowell@express.ca (Lowell) says:

>Here it is, and you don't have to mail any loser.
>
>ASTROLITE LIQUID EXPLOSIVES
>
>     Astrolite explosives are formed [Snip]

Another post from one of the many juvenile explosives "candy men."

Much of the information in the above post is dangerously
innacurate or misleading, particularly  with regard to 
sensitivity and serious undisclosed hazards. In certain
situations, Astrolite is as sensitive as nitroglycerin 
and much more prone to react with common materials.

There have been several deaths from accidental explosions 
of these formulations, including at least two very
experienced chemists.  

Jerry

From: glhurst@onr.com (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: astrolite g detonation
Date: 8 Jul 1996 08:01:57 GMT

In article <4rp0mt$e5k@useneta1.news.prodigy.com>, GUCL60A@prodigy.com
(Robert Preston) says:

>Anyone have some different ways to detonate astrolite g ?

I've detonated from left to right, right to left, upwards, downwards
and obliquely to all the preceding.  It always looked pretty much the 
same going and coming in real time.  Several fellows discovered new 
ways to detonate it, but they're not around to tell how they did it.

I suppose the two most innovative ways I've detonated Astrolite was
with a hypergolic detonator and with a shockwave passing first
through a twenty foot column of oil.  A 30-06 bullet detonates it
nicely if it is adjacent to metal and sometimes when it's not. The
most difficult way I ever used was a stab detonator set off by a
rubber chaser pumped through the center string of an oil well under
1500 feet of oil and water. Oh, yeah and once in a steel bomb under
12,000 psi.  Never try this with anything but a seismic cap.  The
others make a little ping as they suddenly collapse under a few
thousand psi and that's scary.  For the life of me I can't recall
how I could have been dumb enough to be close enough to hear that
ping.

Beware of Astrolite in cylindrical tubes of high shock impedance.  It
loves a good LVD (low velocity detonation) under such conditions and
most anything is liable to set it off.

BTW, Astrolites A and G were pussycats compared to some of the other
letters that nobody ever wrote about in public.

Jerry (Ico)



From: glhurst@onr.com (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics,alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: Steel Compression...
Date: 12 Jan 1997 06:45:17 GMT

In article <5b9ug3$a0l@geraldo.cc.utexas.edu>, glhurst@onr.com (Gerald
L. Hurst) says:

>The various Astrolite formulations are subject to LVD
>when confined in materiproperty of many liquid explosives 
>and leads to extreme shock sensitivity under certain
>conditions.

I don't know what happened to the above transmission but
here it is again with the missing middle portion:

The various Astrolite formulations are subject to LVD
when confined in material having high shock impedance.
This is a common property of many liquid explosives 
and leads to extreme shock sensitivity under certain
conditions.

Jerry (Ico)


From: glhurst@onr.com (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: Dehydrating Hydrazine hydrate?
Date: 2 Nov 1996 17:56:23 GMT

In article <327BE2CD.132C@tick.toc>, DooDaa <DooDaa@tick.toc> says:

>A while ago I ordered a bottle of "hydrazine", but when it arrived it
>was "hydrazine hydrate".  Does Astrolite work with this, or does it need
>"anhydrous hydrazine?"  If so, does anyone have any ideas/experience
>regarding the dehydration of "hydrazine hydrate?"  

My advice would be to stick with PETN and rattlesnakes.  Hydrazine
hydrate is marginal at best for explosives formulations but still 
dangerous to play with -- too toxic and too subject to the hazardous
but useless LVD phenomenon that has already claimed enough lives from 
guys messing with Astrolite variations.

Jerry (Ico)


From: "Gerald L. Hurst" <glhurst@onr.com>
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: Astrolite, FAE's and PBX's
Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 03:44:37 -0500

Air-scatterable mines based on special Astrolite formulations
and using hypergollic initiators were developed during the
Vietnam war.

Jerry (Ico)

Walter and Lisa wrote:

> astrolite in an aerial dist. , not feasible , I would say , unless the
> delivery vehicle was baffled ?



From: "Gerald L. Hurst" <GHURST@austin.rr.com>
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: Explosives, obviously
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 06:44:11 GMT

Never try to make Astrolite of any kind in glasssware
unless you're tired of living.

Astrolite and NG both blow up for their own reasons.
They are both exceedingly dangerous.  With Astrolite,
it is the reasons you don't know that will kill you.

The Astrolite type you are referring to was never
billed as the most powerful.  A more complicated
formulation (A-1-5) was given that title by some.
This material was really quite energetic on a weight
basis, but its low density limited its bulk strength.

Making a world-beating explosive based on power
alone is not all that difficult.  The problem lies
in making one that is actually usable rather than
just a candidate for Guinness.

Jerry


dlwdaw <dlwdaw@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:<7uifjf$e7r$1@nntp6.atl.mindspring.net>...
[snip]
>for astrolite do it in a glass bottle with a glass stirring rod.
[snip]
>then make Astrolite.  it wont blow up for no reason like nitroglycerin can
do
[snip]
>and all that crap about astrolite being 'the most powerful explosive known
> to man" it is not true anymore,



From: ahahma@kontu.utu.fi
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Most powerful chemical explosives (was Re: recipes anyone?)
Message-ID: <1990Dec15.144338.36939@kontu.utu.fi>
Date: 15 Dec 90 14:43:38 GMT

In article <13675@chaph.usc.edu>, bedard@sal-sun92.usc.edu (William Bedard) writes:
>
> Their first explosive is Hydrazine Perchlorate (your skin should be
> crawling by now).  They describe the chemical reactions neccessary to
> produce this chemical and an apparatus similar to jars, your backyard,
> and full NBC protective clothing. OK, they give a little in some areas
> but they make up for it in others...

> Their second explosive is actually very much the same compound but with
> Aluminum added to "contribute electrons" and therefor power to the decomp
> rxn.  Apparently Al powder (~400 mesh) will dissolve in the stuff but who
> knows.

Both of these mixtures are known as Astrolites, a trade name. Astrolite is
a binary explosive, consisting of hydrazinium perchlorate and nitrate,
when mixed. Some astrolites are made of only the perchlorate (the most
powerful ones).

The one component of the explosive is ammonium perchlorate or a mixture
of ammonium perchlorate and nitrate. The other component is hydrazine.
As these are mixed, ammonia is evolved and the residue is the explosive,
very brisant and gives off extremely lots of gases. The latter property makes
it particularly good for underwater/ground uses.

> I can't quote figures as I don't have the brochure on hand.  Personally,
> I read it, realized how dangerous this stuff is, and put it away.  As I

The stuff is really sensitive, about as sensitive as ethylene glycol dinitrate
right after preparation and as sensitive as PETN later, as the ammonia has
evaporated completely. The detonation velocity of this stuff is around 8500
m/s and it is slightly more energetic than hexogen. The large gas volume
produced makes it more powerful than hexogen or octogen, since the tests
often measure this property. The brisance, however, is slightly less, since
Astrolite is not very dense, about 1,5 gr/ccm.

The aluminized Astrolites are still much more powerful (detonation heat) but
not much more brisant. The aluminum does not dissolve, but remains as a
dispersion in the mixture. To help this some gelatinizing agents may be added.

> BTW, this is a liquid explosive so they mention all kinds of subversive
> ways of desguising and delivering the explosive (hence my clue that they
> may not have the purest intentions in mind...)

Like the use as a land mine? Pour the mixture into ground and stick a
detonator into it. Really nasty. If it rains, it doesn't actually matter.
The mine will remain operational for a week or more in heavy rain.

> THINKING about making this stuff unless you have complete protection.
> The chemicals involved are NFPA rated at 4/4/4/No Water.

Surely, anhydrous hydrazine is a really nasty stuff to mess with.

ArNO
    2


From: ahahma@kontu.utu.fi
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Most powerful chemical explosives
Message-ID: <1990Dec18.143437.36987@kontu.utu.fi>
Date: 18 Dec 90 14:34:37 GMT

In article <22810041@hpcvaac.cv.hp.com> billn@hpcvaac.cv.hp.com (bill
nelson) writes:

>>The stuff is really sensitive, about as sensitive as ethylene glycol
>>dinitrate right after preparation and as sensitive as PETN later, as the
>>ammonia has

>Does this mean that the mixture loses sensitivity? If I recall correctly,
>PETN is not very sensitive at all.

Yes it does. The ammonia is dissolved in the mixture and it takes a while for
it to evaporate. During that time there will be very much small bubbles in the
liquid and these sensitize it very effectively.

The same sensitization method is used for slurries as well. A gas is dispersed
as tiny bubbles into the slurry, and these bubbles make it possible to initiate
the slurry even with a blasting cap only. There are also other methods for
sensitizing explosives. This is just one possibility.

ArNO
    2


From: ahahma@polaris.utu.fi (Arno Hahma)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Liquid Explosives
Message-ID: <1991Sep30.175736.21258@polaris.utu.fi>
Date: 30 Sep 91 17:57:36 GMT

In article <29SEP199111231963@envmsa.eas.asu.edu> homan@envmsa.eas.asu.edu (Thomas H. Homan (aka Bit Bucket Bandit)) writes:

>I want to try is called Astrolite.  Does anyone have any experience with
>this explosive?

Yes. It is a problematic mixture. Not, that it is highly sensitive,
but it is highly toxic and corrosive. Also, it is far too brisant to
be suitable for rock blasting.

>Astrolite G is formed by mixing 2 parts by weight of Ammonium Nitrate and 1
>part by weight of anhydrous hydrazine.

As far as I know, the ammonium nitrate here is a 1:1 (molar ratio)
mixture of ammonium perchlorate and ammonium nitrate.

>Astrolite A-1-5 out performs blasting gelatin by 3-5 times

Definitely not. Blasting gelatine (in a borehole) outperforms TNT by a
factor of about 2. In the open the above is likely to be true.

>Astrolite A-1-5 is about 2 times more powerful than TNT
>Astrolite A-1-5 is 40 times safer than Nitroglycerin explosives under
>   adiabatic compression and impact shock.
>Astrolite produces a crater 3 times greater than C-4
>Astrolite produces a crater 1.5x greater than PBXN-1
>Astrolite G has a det velocity of 8600 MPS
>Astrolite A-1-5 has a det velocity of 7800 MPS

Impressive figures, and all true. The effective compounds here are
hydrazine nitrate and perchlorate.

>Considering I'm going to be drilling vertical bore holes, would this be good
>to use?  In my thinking, using a liquid explosive that is easily manufactured
>has several bonuses...

No. It is too brisant as such. Maybe, if you dilute it with water (it
dissolves very well) or use it as a slurry sensitizer.

>1 - Safety - Individual components can be stored separately and you only mix
>    the amount you need on site.

This is only one part of the truth. The AN is safe, but the anhydrous
hydrazine or hydrazine hydrate is not. A drop of it on your hands and
it burns like a drop of molten solder. The burns heal slowly. Also, it
rapidly destroys rubber, so wearing rubber gloves only makes it worse.
It is poisonous, comparable to cyanides in that respect. It is a
cancerogen. So, you still have to be careful with this, although the
components are not explosive - in fact this is the problem with almost
any two-component explosive. This is also why they are seldom used,
with the exception of some two-component slurries.

>2 - Power - It would seem that a liquid explosive would perform better than
>    a composite explosive due to a more uniform density and more contact with
>    the walls of the borehole.

Also partly true. You do get a better contact, but it may be even too
good. Think about any possible cracks in the rock - the stuff will
flow into them. Then, you will get quite surprising results, as a few
or more holes are set off simultaneously and large chunks of rock fly
in the air. Also, the stuff is highly brisant causing small splinters
to be formed - they are the worst you can imagine, your rock becomes a
large scale shrapnel with both large and small, very fast fragments.
Usually, you only get medium sized ones, whose flight path can be well
controlled.

Astrolites are still rather sensitive explosives and very prone
to symphatetic detonation. This with the explosive in the cracks makes
it pretty sure you get erratic ignitions while trying to blast rock.

The cracks are not a problem with liquid slurries, since the slurries
are used with large boreholes (50 mm and up) and with larger distances
from hole to hole. Also, slurries are not sensitive and do not
detonate symphatetically unless large amounts are in contact with each
other. In fact, in this case it is advantageous, that the cracks in
the rock are filled, since detonation of the other boreholes is not
likely due to the insensitivity and large distances of the adjacent
holes.

>any and all comments would be appreciated.

Just for comparison, as powerful a binary explosive is the mixture of
nitrobenzene with concentrated nitric acid (25/75 by weight
approximately). It is also corrosive but still more comfortable to
handle than Astrolites. It does not evolve gaseous ammonia on mixing,
like the astrolites do and it is about as sensitive as freshly prepared
Astrolite G.

For rock blasting you need a relatively slow detonating explosive with
a large gas volume. The detonation only initiates the cracking of the
rock and the gas pressure does most of the work. Astrolites do
generate really lots of gas - in this respect they are ideal for rock
blasting. But, they detonate too fast. If you slow them down,
like impregnating an inert stuff with them or diluting them with an
inert solvent, then they are suitable for blasting.

>Thomas H Homan

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