BOOK_CONTENT
From The Chemistry of Explosives, Second Edition

NITRATION

Nitration plays an important role in the preparation of explosives. For example, the most commonly used military and commercial explosive compounds such as TNT, RDX, nitroglycerine, PETN, etc., are all produced by nitration. Nitration is a chemical reaction by which nitro (NO 2) groups are introduced into organic compounds. It is basically a substitution or double exchange reaction in which one or more NO 2 groups of the nitrating agent replace one or more groups (usually hydrogen atoms) of the compound being nitrated. The nitration reaction can be classified into three categories as shown in Figure 7.1.


Figure 7.1: Classification of explosive composition by nitration reaction

A summary of the nitration techniques for some military and commercial explosives is presented in Table 7.1.

Table 7.1: Examples of nitrating agents for the manufacture of explosives

Compound

Usual nitrating agent

C-Nitration

Picric acid

Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids

TNT

Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids

HNS

Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids

O-Nitration

Nitroglycerine

Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids

Nitrocellulose

Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids

PETN

Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids

N-Nitration

Tetryl

Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids

RDX

Nitric acid and ammonium nitrate

HMX

Nitric acid and ammonium nitrate

C-NITRATION

Picric Acid

Picric acid (7.1) can be prepared by dissolving phenol in sulfuric acid and then nitrating the product with nitric acid as shown in Reaction 7.1.

Sulfuric acid acts as an inhibitor or moderator of the nitration. The...

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