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From: "Barry L. Ornitz" <>
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: Most Powerful Explosive?
Date: 11 Jul 1997 03:27:48 GMT

The term "most powerful explosive" is a nebulous one at best - highest
brissance, detonation rate, energy per unit mass, energy per unit volume,

HMX is made as a "sister" explosive to RDX by Holston Defense Corporation,
a subsidiary of Eastman Chemical Company.  It has some special applications
for the military who are our sole customers because of its physical
properties.  The most important is where the name is derived from - High
Melting eXplosive.  It is especially suitable for applications where other
explosives would be unstable because of high temperatures.

    73,  Dr. Barry L. Ornitz   WA4VZQ,

From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: most powerful high explosive??
Date: 31 Oct 1995 20:10:19 GMT
Organization: Consulting Chemist

In article <475ok7$>, (MalteK) says:

>The most powerful explosive is a mixture of pure tetranitromethane and
>toluene, supposedly it achieves temp of over 10000 deg C and 10400 M/s in
>an Argon atmosphere the temp rises to over 27000 deg C.

Mr. Maltek,

There you go again with your tall tales. The mixture is certainly
powerful (134% of TNT) which puts it in the range of good military
explosives, but it is much too dangerous as has been proven by
a tragic accident.  The detonation velocity is probably around
the 8,000 m/s mark as reported by the French in their tests of
"Panclastite."   The most similar common explosive would be
NG, although the TNM mix is even more shock sensitive and is
especially susceptible to LVD. Thermal stability is probably low
since other hydrocabon mixtures of TNM are known to explode
in the 150 deg C range.

I haven't calculated the explosion temperature, but it is safe to say
that it is nowhere near 5,000 deg C much less 10,000.

The temperature of Argon exposed to an explosive shockwave is 
certainly very high, but that is true for all high explosives
and has little to do with any particular properties of the
TNM mix other than the high, but not unusual detonation pressure
of the material. Argon and the other monatomic gases have lower
molar heat capacities than the other gases and thus they reach
higher adibatic compression temperatures.


From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: most powerful high explosive??
Date: 4 Nov 1995 08:10:31 GMT
Organization: Consulting Chemist
Lines: 39

In article <47f22g$>, (jimbell) says:

> wrote:
>>Just a quick question for all you explosive gurus out here...I just saw
>>"Outbreak" and saw the mercs taken out with that fuel-air explosive.  I
>>realize that it was Hollywood bullshit, so what exactly is the most
>>powerful non-nuclear explosive?? (specifications are brisance and energy
>>released, used to destroy buildings and ground cover, target is a small
>>valley in your local enemy's country)
>A few months ago, I read of a new explosive, "octanitrocubane."  In
>effect, it's a cube of 8 carbon atoms, attached in single bonds along
>the edges of the cube, with a nitro group at each carbon.  Due to the
>extreme strain of the molecule, it probably has the highest energy per
>weight of ordinary nitrated explosives.  However, it is probably also
>BY FAR the most expensive one, so it will find only extremely limited

Whenever I hear about nitrocubane I always wonder if there
is a candid camera pointed my way. A carbon cube with 8 nitro
groups strains credulity more than it does carbon bonds.
Just exactly how is this most extraordinary compound 
synthesized? Oh, I know, verrrry carefully :)  Have they
fully nitrated bucky balls yet? Maybe we could pack micro
crystallites of aluninum in the center to create a sort of
molecular tritonal.


Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
From: (Timothy Melton)
Subject: Re: What is the most powerful
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 1996 20:34:18 GMT

In article <4j5jgq$>
(The Silent Observer) writes:

>The way this was descibed to me the last time this subject came up, if 
>you picture a cube with a carbon at each corner, you have a cubane.  If 
>you now nitrate one or more carbons, you have a nitrocubane; nitrate all 
>eight, and you have the semi-mythical octonitrocubane.
>I don't know that it's ever been made, but cubanes (non-nitrated) 
>apparently have.

Tetranitrocubane has been synthesized, originally by a post doc at the
University of Chicago, Yusheng Xiong [J. Am. Chem. Soc., v115, 10195
(1993)].  It is a very powerful explosive but it is quite stable and
non-toxic.  As of about a year ago, octanitrocubane had not been

ref: "Military Research On Cubane Explosives May Also Lead To New
Pharmaceuticals", _Chemical and Engineering News_, v72 n38 p34. 
(November 28, 1994).

Hope this helps,


Tim Melton          
Quest Consultants Inc.
P.O. Box 721387               (405) 329-7475
Norman, Ok 73070-8069         Fax: (405) 329-7734

From: Alan \"Uncle Al\" Schwartz <>
Newsgroups: sci.chem
Subject: Re: Explosive Organic Compound
Date: 14 May 1996 02:27:46 GMT (Norman Siemens) wrote:
>Hello, Richard here.  I am a highschool student in Ottawa Ontario and I need 
>some information for my highschool chemistry assignment.
>We have to do a small paper on an organic compound of our choice.  It doesn't 
>need to be long (800-1200 words).  I am stuck though.  I would like to do a 
>paper on an explosive, but the library at school doesn't have much information
>(I think they are scared of kids making bombs). So...
>1)  Could some of you suggest an organic compound that would be considered an 

Dinitro-, tetranitro-, and octanitrocubanes are exceedingly sexy topics 
of research for propellants and explosives because of the immense 
thermodynamic energy contained in these materially dense and kinetically 
stable molecules.  Look up Phil Eaton in Chemical Abstracts or Citation 
Index.  The stuff has appeared in technical journals and in Chemical & 
Engineering News with some fanfare.

The hydrocarbon fuels used in cruise missiles are highly strained 
polycyclic aliphatics with anomalously high liquid densities (good 
packing of energetic, roundish molecules).

>2)  Could you point to some referance material about this organic compound.

Phil Eaton first synthesized the parent hydrocarbon, cubane, and has
made a pleasant fetish of it ever since.

Alan "Uncle Al" Schwartz  ("zero" before "@")          (naughty beyond measure;
"Quis custudiet ipsos custodes?"  The Net!     funny beyond endurance)

From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: most powerful high explosive??
Date: 5 Nov 1995 08:36:44 GMT
Organization: Consulting Chemist
Lines: 41

In article <47h4tv$>, (The
Silent Observer) says:

[re octanitrocubane]

>At a guess, any explosive with bonds that strained will also be 
>excessively sensitive to pressure, heat, friction, and static.  Strained 
>bonds are probably at least partly to blame, for instance, for the 
>sensitivity of the trimeric form of peroxyacetone.
>In addition, from your description, this substance (unlike most high 
>explosives) would be oxygen-rich, rather than fuel-rich.  That could 
>mean it would be more efficient and/or more powerful or brisant in a 
>mixture with a fuel-rich explosive such as TNT, RDX, or HMX.

I guess I'm from Missouri concerning the existence of this
compound. However, if it does exist, then it is perfectly
oxygen balanced with two oxygens per carbon:

C8(NO2)8 --> 8CO2 + 4N2

You're certainly right about ring strain. I once discovered a 
four-membered ring compound  -CF2-N=N-CF2- wrapped in a ring
as follows, ascii willing:

			  | |

I had 10 grams of the stuff (gas, liquified under pressure) 
detonate in the laboratory in a glass tube inside a steel tube. 
Luckily the shrapnel missed me because I had momentarily 
stepped on the other side of a pillar to write something on the 
blackboard. The noise took a few years off my life, though.

I found out that breaking glass would invariably set the 
material off. This would happen with milligram quantities
when I would break capillary tubes of the compressed
substance in a stream of nitrogen inside rubber tubing
for CNH analysis. It stings the fingers.


Newsgroups: sci.military.moderated
From: (Roger Moore)
Subject: Re: New military explosive
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2000 17:42:21 GMT (SoBernardo) writes:

>Yesterday's (1/25) New York Times science section featured an article
>about a new potential military explosive named ONC (octanitrocubane) which
>is about 15 to 30 percent more powerful than HMX.

>Does anyone have the characteristics of ONC, i.e., chemical composition,
>molecular weight, loading density, detonation rate, and heat of detonation?

The chemical composition should be C(8)N(8)O(16).  I took a brief look at
a similar article, probably from the same wire story, and I was a bit
surprised that they missed what's possibly the most important issue WRT
cubane based explosives:  chemical strain energy.

People have been looking at cubane based explosives for a while because
cubane has a very unusual chemical structure.  It is, as its name
suggests, made of a core of 8 carbon atoms arranged at the veritices of a
cube.  This constrains the C-C-C bond angles to 90 degrees v.s. the ~108
degrees they would naturally want to adopt.  The constrained bond angles
result in a very high internal energy; you can imagine them as being like
springs under tension.  Because of the structure of the cube, though, you
have to break at least 2 C-C bonds before you can get much of the strain
engergy out of the system.  That makes it reasonably stable despite its
high internal energy.  The result is a high energy explosive that doesn't
have the stability problems that you might expect from something packing
that much power.

Raj                                (
Master of Meaningless Trivia       (626) 585-0144
What if there were no hypothetical questions?

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