Index Home About Blog
From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: RE-Factor
Date: 20 Mar 1996 19:16:39 GMT

In article <4io8ot$>, (Bernie
Willis) says:

>Paul Kemp ( wrote:
>: __________________________________________________________ 
>:          Substance                          % TNT Equiv. 
>:                                               (ref. 1) 
>: __________________________________________________________
>:   Torpex (42% RDX /40% TNT/ 18% Al)              167 
>:   Tritanol (80% TNT /20%Al)                      164 
>:   Nitroglycerin                                  148 
>:   Nitromethane                                   134 
>    ^^^^^^^^^^^^                                   ^^^
>WHOA...!!! About 25 years ago when I did a lot of model airplane flying, a
>friend of mine who raced cars gave a one gallon jug about 3/4 full of pure
>Nitromethane for mixing my fuels. I wish he had told me the above. I
>treated it very nonchalantly. I found out a year or so later that it was
>dangerous when I told a friend about it who happened to work for the local
>fire department. He insisted that I give it to him for disposal and told
>me that I was very lucky to still have a house. I had it stored in the
>garage but actually hadn't used any yet. 
>What kind of danger was I really in? How sensitive is it? My fireman
>friend just about went into hysterics. At least he didn't call the Bomb
>Squad. He just hauled it away in the back of his pickup.

Your friend was overreacting. Although NM is inherently as energetic
as a typical good high explosive, it is unlikely to do any harm
unless you bring it into contact with the wrong chemicals, which 
is an unlikely event.

Many years ago NM was routinely shipped in tank cars. One day, one
of those cars containing 100,000 lbs exploded, probably during
a humping operation. The accident led to an intense, prolonged and 
expensive R&D program to determine the limits of abuse of the liquid
which may lead to an explosion. Among other tests, a barrel of NM
was dropped on a hard surface from an airplane and others were
dropped on steel plates from crane heights and allowed to land
on their flat bottoms. 

Heat tests were run on confined samples with various contaminants
and NM tainted with everything from common solvents to acids were
tested for cardgap sensitivity.

At a later date, I participated in some testing myself. We were 
unable to initiate a drum of the material with a .50 cal machinegun,
but we finally made it go with a 20mm HE round.

The materials to avoid are the alkaline ones. Caustic soda or
potash (sodium or potassium hydroxide) and the like can form
salts which will start a fire. By itself, NM does not burn well
and it has a flashpoint well above room temperature and it
evaporates if spilled - all good characteristics.

Since the big explosion, NM is only shipped in 55 gal drums or 
smaller, and, as far as I know there have been no further incidents
of that nature. One man died when a stick of a copy-cat imitation
of Kinepak exploded in his hand. The stick was armed with an EBC.

The last bad accident I am aware of was one in which sensitized NM
detonated while being pumped into a simulated oil well 300 feet deep.
Not only was the liquid deliberately sensitized, but it was also
in a system using explosive initiators. That accident killed 9
people from the organization which manufactured the product. I had
drinks with that crew the night before they died.

One of the shooting team told me that night that "the trick in life 
is to have some FY money. That's just enough money so's when the 
boss gets in your face you can say 'FY.'"

Jerry (Ico)

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 04:12:13 -0500
From: "Gerald L. Hurst" <>
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: Two part explosives?

Keith Henson wrote:

> Incidentally, if there are any heavy organic folks reading, why do you
> get the NO2 hooked directly to the carbon in nitro methane and indirectly
> through an oxygen in nitroglycerin?  If you could nitrate methanol by
> taking out HOH, it seems you would get CH3ONO2 which would be a better
> explosive.  (I can see where a side reaction would give you CH3OCH3.)

The bonding depends on the reaction.  CH3NO2 has two isomers, nitromethane and
relatively volatile methyl nitrite.  The bonding is C-O-N-O in the latter.

Methyl nitrate, CH3ONO2, is indeed powerful, but it is also too volatile and
sensitive.  It  produces headaches in more than one sense.

Jerry (Ico)

Index Home About Blog