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Destruction of Peroxide Explosives

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 54 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2009 Pages: 1029-1033
Jimmie C. Oxley, Ph.D.; James L. Smith, Ph.D.; Jiaorong Huang, B.Sc.; Wei Luo, M.Sc.
Date Published
September 2009
5 pages
The goal of this research was to find a chemical "cocktail" that when sprayed on peroxide explosives (which are shock and heat sensitive) at room temperature would cause quiescent decomposition of the explosive without further handling.
The study found that the destruction of triacetone triperoxide (TATP), diacetone diperoxide (DADP), and hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD) solutions decomposed in 24 hours at room temperature by the application of Zn SO4 or CuCl2, if these salts were used in combination with (a) zinc or copper metal; (b) tin chloride or sulfate salts; and (c) KMnO4, NH2, KI, or NaBr. Reagents (a) or (b) are effective, but yield slurries rather than solutions. Any of the reagents listed in (c), when combined with zinc sulfate or copper chloride, are water soluble. Generally, HMTD was destroyed more readily than TATP; and DADP was the most difficult to decompose, which reflects their thermal stabilities. Most of these systems achieve destruction more rapidly when acidified, which may be due to increased solubility. The study demonstrated that strong acids, methyl sulfonic acid (99 percent), sulfuric acid (98 percent), and nitric acid (70 percent), when applied directly to solid (5 mg) TATP, DADP, and HMTD, even without stirring, achieved destruction of peroxide explosives in 15 min. This destruction technique, however, is unsuitable for use in even gram quantities of TATP. The authors believe the reaction with acid is exothermic. Gram-scale tests have not been performed on DADP or HMTD. This indicates that further safety tests are required. Because of their sensitivity to shock and heat, peroxide explosives are impractical for use by regular military groups; however, they are attractive to terrorists because synthesis is straightforward, requiring only a few easily obtained ingredients. 6 tables and 6 references


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