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aluminium nitrate blast

January 17, 2021

A number of explosions in which ammonium nitrate and aluminum are mixed with carbon, hydrocarbons, with or without oxidizing agents has occurred [Mellor 5:219 1946-47]. What leveled Beirut on Tuesday sounds eerily similar to descriptions of a massive 1947 explosion in Texas City, Texas. According to a report by Al Jazeera, Lebanon Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosion was fueled by a stockpile of over 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate, confiscated and stored for approximately six years at the port. "The energy given out is what you get as explosive power.". :: Bishopsgate in the City of London was hit with a one-tonne fertiliser bomb by the Provisional IRA in April 1993. The blast was likely caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored at the dock since being confiscated from a … Such investigations may take time. Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi said it appeared that stocks of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be used in bombmaking, had exploded. Facilities holding high quantities of the chemical are subject to inspection by the Department of Homeland Security. The chemicals reportedly have been sitting by the docks since 2013. But David Chavez, an explosives scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, doubts that scenario. In 2015, explosions partly caused by the detonation of around 800 tons of ammonium nitrate rocked the Beijing port of Tianjin, killing 173 people. Under normal conditions, the chemical is highly stable. An explosion of ammonium nitrate was responsible for the worst industrial accident in US history in 1947. When heated to above 170 degrees Fahrenheit, ammonium nitrate begins to undergo decomposition. Two days later, the death toll rose to at least 130 people with another 5,000 injured. “It’s relatively difficult to make pure ammonium nitrate go off unless you add things to it and cook it in a giant fire,” says Davin Piercey, a chemist at Purdue University. Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi, in comments to a local TV station, made no mention of ignited fireworks but said it appeared the blast was caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse at the dock ever since it was confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014. Ammonium nitrate is an odourless crystalline substance that is naturally stable and used in fertilisers, but when mixed with other chemicals such as oil can create a potent explosive. e.g. By comparing the blast’s size against nearby buildings, video of the Beirut incident shows that in the eighth of a second after the explosion occurred, its spherical shockwave grew to roughly 800 feet wide. Add enough of the oxidizer to a fire, and it will trigger an explosion. Because of ammonium nitrate's explosive potential, countries and unions impose strict regulations on how to store and process it. Lebanon blast: Ammonium nitrate behind many industrial accidents. Using math pioneered in the 1940s to infer the atomic bomb’s yield, experts can analyze videos of a shockwave to get rough estimates of an explosion’s total energy and how much material blew up. The huge change in phase creates a shockwave.”. This also requires pressure to build up in a confined space, without being able to dissipate. The safety and efficiency of this new explosive were … Compared to most combustible materials, ammonium nitrate itself is not exceptionally explosive. Any carbon-rich fuel—paper, cardboard, or even sugar—can pair with ammonium nitrate to produce more intense energy. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt across the city. So what is ammonium nitrate, why is it explosive and why do we use it? Ammonium nitrate would only explode on its own if its temperature was rapidly raised to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Since 1916, the chemical has been responsible for at least 30 disasters, some accidental and some intentional. A large explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4. Some internet rumors speculate that because the ammonium nitrate was left to sit in a warehouse for several years, it would have degraded, becoming more volatile and increasingly dangerous over time. Though ammonium nitrate was first synthesized in 1659 by German chemist Johann Rudolf Glauber, it wasn’t used in explosives until World War I, when weapon makers mixed it with TNT (aka dynamite) to make cheaper bombs. Bags containing ammonium nitrate fertilizer are dispalyed in an agricultural trader in Vieillevigne, France, October 7, 2016. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/08/deadly-history-ammonium-nitrate-explosive-linked-to-beirut-blast.html, math pioneered in the 1940s to infer the atomic bomb’s yield. A more likely explanation is that the ammonium nitrate in Beirut was not alone inside the warehouse. All rights reserved. Reports suggest over 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate detonated. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- But for the compound to figure in an explosion of this magnitude, chemists and explosives experts say a lot has to go wrong. Measured using this method, onlookers estimated the blast was roughly equivalent to 400 to 3,000 tons of TNT, an explosive material that’s also used as a unit to measure the destructiveness of explosions. It's not clear what else may have been ignited or exploded in the blast -- or what was stored at the docks -- but Prime Minister Diab is expected to make this information known "soon," according to The Guardian. Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article. He has also announced that Wednesday will be a national day of mourning in the country and the port and surrounding region has been declared a disaster zone. Al 2 (SO 4) 3 + 3 Ba(NO 3) 2 → 2 Al(NO 3) 3 + 3 BaSO 4. The explosive potential of ammonium nitrate is well understood and has been used in numerous terrorist attacks including the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. A giant explosion occurs during the loading of fertilizer onto the freighter Grandcamp at a pier in Texas City, Texas, on April 16, 1947. Burning ammonium nitrate in an open field, for instance, isn't likely to result in an explosion, Rae said. When something burns, it requires oxygen—that’s why fire extinguishers can easily put out flames by smothering them. When heated, ammonium nitrate decomposes non-explosively into gases of oxygen, nitrogen, and water vapor; however, it can be induced to decompose explosively by … The chemical compound was used to make explosives for the … Or, this discrepancy might mean that the material inside the warehouse was not pure ammonium nitrate, and some other compound was involved with the blast. The Associated Press contributed to this article. Connect with friends faster than ever with the new Facebook app. Then, the ammonium nitrate cargo detonated in a blast so powerful it shook the ground for hundreds of miles and registered as an earthquake … Keith Craig of the Stockton Community Action Group said it … Ammonium nitrate, which is used in fertilizers and bomb making, is a salt made from ammonium and nitric acid, and it is highly explosive. Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound containing the element nitrogen (as well as hydrogen and oxygen) and is commonly used in agriculture as fertilizer. Additionally, in the explosion, not all of the ammonium nitrate is used up and exploded. “It will oxidize that fuel very rapidly, create a huge amount of gas, and give off a huge amount of heat. Some of it decomposes slowly creating toxic gases like nitrogen oxides. Given that these back-of-the-envelope calculations come with a wide margin of error, the estimate is consistent with the 2,750 tons that Lebanese officials say was stored by the port. An explosion of ammonium nitrate was responsible for the worst industrial accident in US history in 1947. But with rapid heating or detonation, a chemical reaction can occur that converts ammonium nitrate to nitrogen and oxygen gas and water vapor. "If the pictures are right, this was something meant to be an oxidizer used with other agents," such as explosives used for mining, he says. Though Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, estimates it’s probably closer to 400 tons. Two explosions are said to have rocked the port. There are also longer-term effects to consider. In 2015, 173 people were killed in the port city of Tianjin, China, when a warehouse containing ammonium nitrate exploded. Lebanese authorities are blaming the incident on more than 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, a substance commonly used in fertilizers as well as in explosives for mining and construction projects. Look closely at footage of downtown Beirut, and you can see the ground warp and buckle just after the blast erupted from the warehouse on August 4. Measurements of detonation velocity were performed. The blast in St Mary Axe killed three people, including a 15-year-old girl. 2021 National Geographic Partners, LLC. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and acetic acid ignites when warmed, especially if concentrated [Von Schwartz p. 322 1918]. Uses. “Plastics, for example, paint, and other organic materials that completely or partially burned—all the building materials that became dust.”, The deadly history of ammonium nitrate, the explosive linked to the Beirut blast, Photograph by Anwar AMRO, AFP via Getty Images. Aluminium nitrate is a strong oxidizing agent. A ship in the harbor of Texas City, Texas, carrying approximately 2,300 tons of … If the ammonium nitrate in Beirut was stored in wooden or cardboard containers, it would have made the substance incredibly flammable, says Jimmie Oxley, a chemist at the University of Rhode Island. Moreover, the decomposition of ammonium nitrate can create byproducts known as nitrogen oxides, which are known to cause respiratory distress. Injuries surpassed more than 5,000; the blast destroyed 500 homes and the smoke from it billowed for days. The massive explosions that killed at least 73 people and injured more than 3,700 others Tuesday evening in the Port of Beirut was caused by “materials … The blast itself was heard up to 25 miles south of the city, and many streets in Beirut are now paved with broken glass. “Ammonium nitrate does not degrade with time under normal storage conditions,” he says. Other health issues, akin to those seen after 9/11, may emerge given the widespread destruction to buildings and roads. "This is clearly a very significant explosion, and the reported number of deaths is likely to be far higher than currently identified," said David Caldicott, a senior clinical lecturer in medicine at the Australian National University. Cook’s greatest commercial explosives invention was formulated in December of 1956, when he created a new blasting agent using an unusual mixture of ammonium nitrate, aluminum powder, and water. Nitrogen is an essential element for this process and ammonium nitrate is particularly good, compared with other fertilizers, at delivering plants nutrients. An aerial view shows the massive damage at Beirut port's grain silos and the surrounding area on August 5, 2020, one day after a massive explosion hit the heart of the Lebanese capital. It's also an explosive compound and is used around the world in mining and construction operations requiring detonations. Seventy-five years later, National Geographic revisits the elusive horror of Hiroshima. According to Lebanon's Interior Minister, 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate went up in yesterday's blast. The Air Force in its routine missim ... Silver nitrate Aluminum Cadmium Chlorine Chloride ion Chl.Jrate ion Copper Cyanide ( ion} Cyanogen chloride Cyanate ( ion} Carbon dioxide Carbonate ion Chromium Iron ;.j SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMMONIUM NITRATE-BASED BLASTING AGENTS Revision of Information Circular 8179 by G, H. Damon, 1 C. M. Mason, 2 N, E. Hanna, 3 and D. R, Forshey4 ABSTRACT Since 1963, Bureau of Mines Information Circular 8179 has served the min­ Piling up large amounts of ammonium nitrate allows more heat to be contained for longer when a mixture burns. "What happened today will not come to pass without accountability," Diab said. Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, said … The stockpile had … It’s known to predispose people to the worst effects of respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. “There’s a massive amount of energy given off very quickly,” says Stephen Beaudoin, a chemical engineer also at Purdue University. Even a small amount of contamination would have made the ammonium nitrate more likely to detonate. The telltale signs of … Lebanon was already dealing with political and financial woes, due in part to the Syrian migration crisis and the coronavirus pandemic. Plants rely on photosynthesis, converting sunlight to energy using chlorophyll. In the aftermath of the blast, videos show plumes of red-brown smoke and the apocalyptic extent of the destruction, with buildings leveled for miles. View the product label for Aluminum Nitrate 60% Solution from Mineral Research and Development. But the chemical has a more nefarious use -- as an explosive. Ammonium nitrate, which Lebanese authorities have said was the cause of the Beirut blast, is an odourless crystalline substance commonly used as … Ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse linked to catastrophic Beirut explosion Beirut was declared a "disaster city" by authorities on Wednesday, in the wake of a … Ammonium nitrate was involved in the 1947 Texas City disaster, one of the largest industrial explosions in history. the apocalyptic extent of the destruction. Cell phone videos also show the shockwave and dust cloud rushing through the portside buildings, leaving behind scenes of carnage in the Lebanese capital. In April 1995, American terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols used two tons of the compound in a truck-bomb attack on the Oklahoma City federal building; 168 people were killed. An explosion rocked Beirut on August 4. The US Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives lists a number of statutes and regulations involved in the manufacturing, processing and storage of ammonium nitrate. Though Lebanese authorities have said ammonium nitrate was the culprit in the blast, Lewis notes that in many cases commercial explosives are referred to as just this compound even though they contain additives. blast and producer gas furnaces produce wastewater streams contam-inated with cyanide mater1als. After the fireball erupts in the video above, you can immediately see the shock wave expanding away from the blast. In Australia, the storage and use of ammonium nitrate is monitored to prevent these types of explosions occurring, Kaiser said. When combined with fuel and oil, ammonium nitrate creates a potent explosive widely used in the construction industry. Beirut mayor Marwan Abboud told Agence France-Presse that 300,000 people are unable to return to their homes, as the damage covered half the city and could cost up to $15 billion to repair. See active ingredients, product application, restrictions, and more. Given the reported amount, Oxley hypothesizes that a vehicle must have been used to carry the compound inside, and that could have contaminated it with oil or gasoline. This process and ammonium nitrate allows more heat to be contained for longer when mixture... Arms control expert at the Houston-area port with smoke spewing from its cargo hold well understood has... A white sphere around the world in mining and construction operations requiring detonations combustible materials ammonium! 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