New explosives will replace obsolete and toxic TNT

It looks like the good old trinitrotoluene (TNT) era is coming to an end. Experts at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) are working with colleagues at the US Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland to develop a new explosive that has TNT power but is much less toxic.

A bit of history. TNT was created by the German chemist Julis Wilbrandt in 1863, but as ... a textile dye. Much later, in 1891, another German chemist Karl Hessermann discovered its "explosive" properties. Since then, TNT has become one of the most commonly used explosives.

TNT has an undeniable advantage - safe handling. In order for it to detonate, a special detonator is needed, otherwise all attempts to make it explode by heating or mechanical action will end in vain.

Unfortunately, TNT is highly toxic. With prolonged contact with it, the hematopoietic system, liver and spleen are affected. In addition, TNT is a carcinogen and can pollute the soil for a long time, so it is not surprising that attempts to find a non-toxic alternative to it have been made regularly.

The new explosive, developed by chemist David Chavez, is a nitrogen-containing compound with bis-oxadiazole or 1, 2, 4-oxadiazole bis (methylene) dinitrate. This 24-atom molecule is filled with nitrogen and, upon bursting, releases 1.5 times more energy than TNT. Moreover, the new compound is much less toxic.