New explosives can replace outdated and toxic TNT
It seems that the era of the good old trinitrotoluene (TNT) is coming to an end. Specialists of the National Laboratory in Los Alamos (LANL) together with colleagues from the US Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland are developing a new explosive with TNT capacity, but much less toxic.
A bit of history. TNT was created by the German chemist Julis Wilbrandt in 1863, but as a … dye for textiles. Much later, in 1891, another German chemist Karl Hesserman discovered his “explosive” properties. Since then, trinitrotoluene has become one of the most commonly used explosives.
TNT has an undeniable advantage – safety in circulation. In order to detonate it, a special detonator is necessary, otherwise all attempts to make it explode with the help of heating or mechanical impact will end in vain.
But, unfortunately, TNT is very toxic. With prolonged contact with it affects the hematopoietic system, liver and spleen. Plus, TNT is a carcinogen and can permanently pollute the soil, so it’s no surprise that attempts to find a non-toxic alternative have been made regularly.
The new explosive, developed by the chemist David Chavez, is a nitrogen-containing compound bis-oxadiazole or 1,2,4-oxadiazole bis (methylene) dinitrate. This molecule of 24 atoms is filled with nitrogen and splashes 1.5 times more energy than TNT. The new compound is much less toxic.