Explosive types and equipment


Dynamite: With the invention of nitroglycerin in 1865, Alfred Nobel was about to embark on a worldwide empire of explosives. Nitroglycerin, a mixture of nitric acid and glycerin, was so unstable that it could detonate at the touch of a feather, and thus was unsafe for domestic use. Nobel set out to solve the problem, and in 1866, he discovered that when dissolved in silicon, the nitro was far more stable and portable. This new explosive could be melted at a relatively low temperature and poured into molds or sticks. Dynamite quickly became the world standard with the later invention of the blasting cap, an electrically controlled mini-explosive used for detonation. Dynamite was and is still used for construction and demolition, and was even used in earlier warfare.


Low Explosives: According to a military classification, low explosives are “combustible materials that decompose rapidly, yet do not create an actual explosion.” Also called “propellants,” some examples are nitrocellulose, black powder, gasoline, and propane. They are used for shooting bullets from guns, and for These materials burn extremely fast, but due to their chemical makeup they cannot usually be classified as “true explosives.” Yet sometimes under the right conditions, these may propagate a true explosion, and depending on the atmospheric pressure, cause excessive damage.


Initiating Explosives: Under normal conditions, initiating explosives will not burn, but they will detonate if ignited. Their strength and brisance are much lower, but they are sufficient to detonate high explosives. Because of their sensitivity, they are used in munitions for initiating and intensifying high-order explosions. Some examples of initiating explosives are Mercury Fulminate, Lead Azide, Lead Styphnate, Tetracene, or Diazodinitrophenol. When used with a blasting cap, these compounds can facilitate an extremely effective and fast reaction.


Auxiliary Explosives: These explosives are more sensitive than high explosives, and are used for initiators, primers, or detonators. They are utilized in blasting caps, and gel-type igniters that are common in mining and construction. Some examples of auxiliary explosives include Tetrytol, Pentaerythritoltetranitrate (PETN), Trinitrophenylmethylnitramine (Tetryl) and Trinitrotoluene (TNT)


Bursting or (High) Explosives:
When these compounds experience a considerable shock, the molecules of the explosive break down and rearrange themselves within a few millionths of a second. This “decomposition” causes the elements inside the explosives to expand with a rapid speed, creating an enormous pressure cloud of gas and fire. Every explosive has a specific “detonation velocity,” which is the speed at which the explosive travels outward. High explosives have a much higher detonation velocity than low explosives, and must be detonated using a similar high explosive or an initiating explosive and primer. Compositions of bursting explosives are utilized for maximum stability and power, and are often found in conventional military weapons. These weapons create an intense shock wave, which travels in a large radius and causes pressure and heat damage to buildings and bystanders.


Plastic Explosives: Plastic explosives, or plastique, are composite mixtures of high explosives and a colloid gel, such as a Nitroglycerine putty. Plastic explosives are extremely useful for both demolition and military uses due to the easy mobility and power of these compounds. The bricks may be molded into countless shapes, and depending on the setup, shaped charges may be created for precise demolition. Army troops carry C4 as a standard ordnance weapon on all excursions, and other plastic bombs are being implemented every day. C4 is the most powerful type of plastic explosives, and is made


Missiles: These are the most well known form of destructive military implement, and they consist of a body tube with a propellant and explosive. There are several different kinds of missiles, such as cruise missiles, air to ground, air to air, ground to air, torpedos, and ICBMs. These projectiles all utilize some sort of propellant system, using rocket fuel and guidance systems to get them to their target. Cruise missiles are launched from either a submarine, a ship, or a ground operations base. These can travel over 5,000 miles and can reach remote targets in hot zones.


Blasting Caps: Invented by Alfred Nobel, these devices revolutionized demolition and blasting techniques. They employ electricity to detonate a sensitive explosive, such as mercury fulminate.


Brisance: The speed with which an explosive develops its maximum pressure is a measure of the quality known as brisance. A brisant explosive is one in which the maximum pressure is attained so rapidly that the effect is to shatter any material in contact with it and all surrounding material. High Explosives usually have exceptionally high brisance, with the exception of shaped charges, which direct all of their force in one direction to create a predetermined pattern.


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