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|Title:||Explosive evaluation : gelled nitromethane and slurry as military bulk explosive systems|
|Authors:||United States. Army. Office of the Chief of Engineers.|
Reed, Howard H.
Bulk explosive systems
|Publisher:||Weapons Effects Laboratory (U.S.)|
Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.)
|Series/Report no.:||Miscellaneous paper (U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station) ; N-76-9.|
Abstract: The Office, Chief of Engineers (OCE), is funding a research program to investigate the potential of commercial bulk explosives for use in the theater of operations. A possible end result is a bulk explosive system consisting of aluminized nitrate slurries, and mixing and pumping units similar to those used in commercial quarrying and open pit mining. Another bulk explosive was developed for the ESSEX program which was funded by Defense Nuclear Agency and OCE. This system uses nitromethane, a special gelling agent, and a mixing unit to produce gelled nitromethane. This product has many characteristics that are similar to slurry blasting agents. A slurry is a blasting agent which is a mixture of an oxidizer and a fuel or sensitizer in a liquid medium, thickened with a gum and gelled with a crosslinking agent for water resistance. The chemically active ingredients in most slurries are ammonium nitrate, water, and sometimes sodium nitrate or aluminum. Nitromethane is a nitroparaffin made by vapor phase reaction between nitric acid vapor and propane at high temperature and pressure. With a sufficient booster, it can be detonated; additives can make it cap-sensitive. Until recently, a satisfactory gelling agent had not been available for nitromethane. In recent tests, however, a modified guar gum has done an excellent job of gelling nitromethane. Both of these explosives are water resistant and will slump to fill the emplacement cavity. Of the two, nitromethane is more susceptible to charge deterioration under severe groundwater conditions. Gelled nitromethane performs much better at temperature extremes and has a much better shelf life than slurry, both as ingredients and in gelled form. Both explosives are safe to use, being noncap-sensitive and difficult to burn. However, nitromethane is more hazardous to work with than slurry because it may be pumped only within closely controlled pressures. It is concluded that at present, an aluminized slurry system offers the best alternative for an Army bulk explosive system. Research has been extensive in the slurry industry and rapid advances have been made in the technology. High-energy slurry products are available which are excellent cratering explosives. The problems of slurry mentioned in this report have not been considered problems in industrial operations, and thus have not been adequately addressed. Gelled nitromethane could be considered as an alternative to a slurry system if the difficulties peculiar to slurries cannot be overcome.
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