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From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: sci.chem
Subject: Re: Explosives -- academic research and career choices
Date: 21 Feb 1996 02:25:52 GMT

In article <>, says:

>1.  Are there academic (graduate) laboratories that conduct 
>legitimate and safety-oriented research in explosives, such that if 
>one were interested, they could do their M.S. or Ph.D. on this topic 

Try New Mexico Tech's Energetic Materials Research and Testing
Center at  Mel Cook used to head up
explosives research at the U.of Utah, so you might check there,
too. Unfortunately their web site isn't worth visiting.

>2.  Are the accident statistics for explosives researchers or 
>industrial explosives chemists much worse than those for chemists in 
>general ?

It depends. Most of the large manufacturers have very good safety
records. However, I have too many very dead ex-acquaintances and
ex-coworkers in the field.

>3.  Because I can imagine that it is possible to *really* counter 
>most of the hazards associated with this type of work by the use of 
>heavy sheilds and remote actuating equiptment (expensive, of 
>course), I wonder if these levels of precautions are actually used 
>or do people just put there hands right on their reaction vessels 
>and stir away.

It depends on what you are working with. I've blended a lot of
high explosives in a kitchen mixer on a lab bench and manufactured
class A explosives using ribbon mixers we rebuilt from food-processing
equipment. On the other hand, for nitroglycerin we bought a very
sophisticated Biazzi setup built over a swimming pool to dump the
reaction mixture into if it got too hot. The plant had escape slides 
for the monitors and looked like a layman's concept of a modern
stainless steel lab.

Frequently, manufacturing facilities are barricaded, but often as not
they are not. Lab blast shields are used extensively. One advantage
in working with explosives is that you KNOW they are explosive.
The nice thing about a simple shield is that you only lose a hand :)


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