New super explosives pack a wallop without polluting

June 24th, 2008 - 11:47 am ICT by IANS  

By Ernest Gill
Hamburg, June 24 (DPA) A new generation of super-powerful conventional explosives will soon be able to reduce the risks of accidental detonation and pollution of the environment, according to a team of German researchers. The researchers from the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich say the new explosives are safer to transport than TNT and less toxic to the environment, apart from being more powerful.

They found the alternative to TNT in a recently explored class of materials called tetrazoles. These derive most of their explosive energy from nitrogen instead of carbon as TNT and others do.

Their study of these more environmentally friendly explosives is scheduled for the June 24 issue of Chemistry of Materials, a bi- weekly journal.

In the new study, Thomas M. Klapoetke and Carles Miro Sabate point out that conventional explosives such as TNT, RDX and HMX, widely used by military, are rich in carbon and tend to produce toxic gases upon ignition.

In addition to polluting the environment, these materials are also highly sensitive to physical shock, such as hard impacts and electric sparks, making their handling extremely dangerous.

To find safer and “greener” explosives, Klapoetke and Sabate identified two promising tetrazoles: HBT and G2ZT.

The researchers developed tiny “bomblets” out of these materials and detonated them in the laboratory. The materials showed less sensitivity to shock than conventional explosives and produced fewer toxic products when burned, the researchers say.

After the bombs were detonated in the laboratory, G2ZT also proved as powerful than TNT, and HBT more powerful than TNT and comparable to RDX, says Klapoetke, a chemist at the University of Munich.

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