Wednesday, 28 May, 2008 Science
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Bombs to Become Safer for the Environment

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Scientists develop new explosives made from materials that would be more environmentally friendly and more powerful than commonly used explosives.

The explosives for military and industrial use, such as TNT or RDX have a toxic effect when detonated which is unsafe for the environment. This becomes even more hazardous, when incomplete or no explosion took place. These explosives are often unsafe to handle as their sensitivity to impact, friction and heat can be very high.

German scientists developed explosive from the tetrazoles, a new class of materials, which makes nitrogen a main source of energy instead of carbon used in conventional explosives. They produced small bombs from two tetrazole compounds called HBT and G2ZT.

The results of the experiments showed that the bombs proved to be as powerful and in some cases even more powerful than conventional explosives TNT and RDX. The experimental bombs were also less likely to explode by accident.

It was also found that the toxic effect of G2ZT and HBT was much lower than in commonly used explosives. Though these bombs produced unsafe hydrogen cyanide gas, further improvements by mixing the compound with oxidizers were made to neutralize this gas. This also resulted in better performance, Thomas Klapötke, a chemist at the University of Munich in Germany said.

Experts say that the findings of the study are potentially useful in military applications for large caliber naval and tank weapons.

The results of the research are published in the June issue of the journal Chemistry of Materials.

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