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Synthesis

Improving On Explosives

Energetic Materials: Potassium salt of new compound could serve as benign primary explosive

by Elizabeth K. Wilson
July 13, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 28

In their quest for environmentally friendly but potent explosives, scientists have synthesized one of the most powerful nonnuclear explosives yet (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201502919). Thomas M. Klapötke, Dennis Fischer, and Jörg Stierstorfer of Ludwig Maximilian University, in Munich, prepared the compound, 1,5-di(nitramino)tetrazole, a member of the 1-nitraminotetrazole family. Scientists had predicted that this molecule would have extraordinary explosive properties. Indeed, the authors found that it is so sensitive to friction and impact that it may be too difficult to use safely. However, they also synthesized a number of metal salts of 1,5-di(nitramino)tetrazole. All of the compounds are extremely impact sensitive, on par with lead azide. But the dipotassium salt is stable up to 240 °C. The authors say this potassium salt could be an environmentally benign and thermally stable initiating explosive. It could also be used instead of other explosives such as tetrazene, a common nitrogen-rich explosive that is toxic.

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