Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Neutering Ammonium Nitrate

February 14, 2012: The United States is trying to get fertilizer manufacturers to produce less explosive products. That's because terrorists increasingly use ammonium nitrate (a commonly used agricultural fertilizer) for their bombs (by mixing it with fuel oil and setting it off with a detonator). There is now a new form of ammonium nitrate fertilizer that it will not function effectively as an explosive. The Honeywell Corporation found that by adding some modified ammonium sulfate to the ammonium nitrate, you actually improve the fertilizing ability of the mix (by making the treated soil less acidic), and also prevent the fertilizer from being used as an explosive. Actually, you can still use the ammonium sulfate nitrate mix as an explosive, but it requires some creative chemistry to do so, and serves as a technological barrier for most terrorist groups. Although not a fertilizer manufacturer, American conglomerate (it makes a lot of different stuff) Honeywell found this less explosive ammonium nitrate formula while developing fire retardants. New discoveries are often made that way, by accident.
The military has long used ammonium nitrate as an explosive in large bombs (usually five tons or more of ammonium nitrate, fuel oil and powdered aluminum) and would continue to do so. But plain old ammonium nitrate would be reclassified as "military grade explosives material" and its sale would be restricted. Unfortunately, some terrorists will be able to find chemists with the skills to convert the ammonium sulfate nitrate fertilizer to the more explosive type. It is still a difficult process, but not so difficult that some terrorists will find a way to do it. Meanwhile, the larger problem is getting ammonium nitrate fertilizer manufacturers, in areas where terrorists obtain and use the fertilizer for explosives (Pakistan, in particular), to switch to the non-explosive type.



Anonymous Military Plaques said...

One of my best friends was a demo tech in the Marines and when he got back from one of his deployments he walked me over to his kitchen sink and told me to look inside. There were just ordinary house hold cleaners and he said, "Do you have any idea what I can do with just these chemicals right here?"

Point being, if there is a will there is a way. Anyone who wants to blow something up can no matter what kind of government regulations are put into place. Just look at drug, and guns, illegal, but when people want them bad enough they can get a hold of as much as the want.

Stop nerfing the US people!!!

4:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home