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View Diary: Texas fertilizer plant was storing highly explosive ammonium nitrate (83 comments)

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  •  Err... (2+ / 0-)
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    PeterHug, happymisanthropy

    "It will explode if you hit it hard enough with a hammer."

    ...No, it won't.  AN's essentially shock and friction insensitive on that scale, unless it's been contaminated with certain metal salts or organic compounds.  

    It's difficult to get pure AN to explode, period, unless you heat large amounts of it up to melting and then shock it, and even then, only the melted part tends to detonate unless the stockpile's extremely large.  (One government website I saw said that at least 300T would be needed, or it would just deflagrate instead of detonate.)  That's why, whether it's being used by guys in a quarry or mad bombers, it's -always- mixed with a sensitizer beforehand.

    •  It will explode if you shock it hard enough (0+ / 0-)

      I saw a table where they were letting a weight free fall onto samples of different explosives. They recorded the minimum height required to create an explosion. Nitroglycerine was something ridiculous like one inch. Ammonium Nitrate was something equally as ridiculous like 100 inches.

      This was in a book that I had decades ago. I can't find a similar table online. All I could find was a government document where they were exploding it by shooting bullets at it.

      No explosive is immune to shock.

    •  I wasn't suggesting to use claw hammer and a brick (0+ / 0-)

      in your backyard. You will never get it to explode that way.

      I was just making the point that AN is an explosive on its own.

      If you smash it hard enough between two pieces of metal, it is going to explode. Maybe you need a big machine to swing the hammer, but it can be done.

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