Skip to comments.Beirut blast: How does ammonium nitrate create such devastating explosions?
Posted on 08/05/2020 4:19:11 PM PDT by BenLurkin
Ammonium nitrate is frequently added to increase a fertilizer's nitrogen content. It's relatively stable under most conditions and is inexpensive to manufacture, making the chemical a popular alternative to other, more expensive nitrogen sources.
But ammonium nitrate has a potentially lethal downside: The compound is considered an oxidizer, meaning at an atomic level, it removes electrons from other substances in a chemical reaction. What that means in a more practical sense is that it increases the burning of fuels by increasing the oxygen that's available to those fuels. To start the reaction, ammonium nitrate must come into contact with an open flame or other ignition source. In the Beirut incident, experts suggest fireworks were involved.
Once a reaction is sparked, ammonium nitrate explodes violently. The explosive force occurs when solid ammonium nitrate decomposes very rapidly into two gases, nitrous oxide and water vapor.
Boaz Hayoun, founder and owner of the Tamar Group, an Israeli firm involved in safety and certification issues involving explosives, explained the telltale signs of the ignition. "Before the big explosion, you can see in the center of the fire, you can see sparks, you can hear sounds like popcorn and you can hear whistles," Hayoun told The Associated Press. "This is very specific behavior of fireworks, the visuals, the sounds and the transformation from a slow burn to a massive explosion."
(Excerpt) Read more at livescience.com ...
Anything that starts with “ammo” could be bad.
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Nitrogen binds to itself in a triple bond. This makes it a relatively inert element. When Nitrogen is combined with other elements the energy needed to do that is liberated when Nitrogen goes back to its normal triple bond.
So they parked 2,750 tons of AN (16yrs old) next to a warehouse full of fireworks.
I hope whoever made that decision was nearby. It’s the only fix for that kind of stupid.
Rapid oxidation...it makes devilish fireworks!
If Hamas has the technology to manufacture these rockets, it stands to reason that they have a stockpile of materials to manufacture the propellant. Though certainly not in Gaza.
It is rather incredible how easily some are falling for what I perceive to be a rather convenient cover story.
With 2000 tons of fertilizer, you have a cover for pretty much any accident short of a nuke and only outside investigators would be able to conclusively prove otherwise.
That is, other than that massive crater...
This I posted after that blast. From a guy I know who worked in the mines on a blasting crew.
Just talked to a guy I know from the UP of Mich who worked on a blasting crew at one of the iron ore mines.
Said that that crap would not go off unless it is mixed with something-its fertilizer, and had an catylist to get it going.
But, he said it could go off if its stored in containers and had something to set it off. A spark Might set it off but he doubted that.
They used to use that stuff and pour it into 50 foot deep hole by 16 inches wide and then they put two caps down the hole at the 15 foot and 30 foot level. They then would cap the hole with crushed rock and the holes were 50 to 60 feet apart. Theyd shoot over one mile of rock-enough for the mine to work for one week. All that rock ended up the size of grapefruit.
Everyone knows what they mixed it with.
If they wanted a stronger shot, they add aluminum ++++++++ to it.
So what happened I bet, is the terrorist were playing around with ammunition there and a fire broke out and it got set off.
I would bet that Hezbollah, etc, will be really welcomed round there now.
Such an explosion has happened before. A boatload of Ammonium Nitrate aboard a ship in the harbor in Galveston, Texas (April 16, 1947), also blew up, destroying a large part of the wharf and some nearby ships. It was probably the first time such a huge explosion was attributed to NH4NO3 (the chemical formula of Ammonium Nitrate), but its capability as a fast-reacting chemical was already known, as this is an ammonium analog to both saltpeter (used in early gunpowder) and potassium nitrate which is the ingredient in most modern “smokeless” gunpowders.
I hope whoever made that decision ...
Whoever it was, they likely got the idea from Gary Larson.
Yep, I worked with azides for several years. A trace amount of iron is enough to catalize an explosion, forming N2. Same principal in auto air bags. Not really air.
AND they were repeatedly told that, if it ignited, it would blow all of Beirut to Kingdom Come!
Another more recent one in the US was in April 2013, a fertilizer factory in West, TX. About 500k lbs of ammonium nitrate blew up, from an arson fire. Killed nearly 20 including most of town fire department.
i always heard that diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate together are like nitroglycerin- very touchy.
There are some good videos on line of the aftermath of the Texas City disaster. It also destroyed a Monsanto factory, killed over 500 people, including all but one of Texas City’s fire department and even blew a small plane out of the sky.
While stable at ambient temps, it begins to devomposecaround 200c, and critical temp is around 570 c. Between the two temp points, it is giving off volatile combustible gases that create nitric acid and other species. That gas and heat at critical temp creates deflagration, or comm9nly known as an explosion.
No added fuel, caps or firing system required.
It is a dirty orange red blast as the components do not fully oxidize , which is why fuel is added creating ANFO.
Fireworks. Yeah right. All I can picture is that ditz talking to Cornwallis in the movie The Patriot as the ship blows up:” oh goodie, fireworks!”
Was this the one, the story for the First Billy Graham movie called OILTOWN U.S.A.
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