From The Chemistry of Explosives, Second Edition


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


Usual nitrating agent


Picric acid

Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids


Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids


Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids



Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids


Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids


Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids



Mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids


Nitric acid and ammonium nitrate


Nitric acid and ammonium nitrate


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...

Products & Services
Industrial Gases
Industrial gases are pure elements, molecular compounds or mixtures that are gaseous or vaporous at room temperature and pressure.
Catalysts and Initiators
Catalysts and initiators start or promote chemical reactions used to produce organic chemicals, polymers and adhesives.
Ion Exchange Resins
Ion exchange resins are typically porous, cross-linked polystyrene beads that trap ions (iron, manganese, etc.) in a solution, usually water, while releasing (or exchanging) other ions (sodium, etc.). They are used to reduce water hardness.
Chemical Process and Petrochemical Gases

Chemical process and petrochemical gases are materials used in the production of compounds or products. They are used in processes such as inerting, blanketing, purging, sparging, and stripping. These gases are used in many applications including treatment and sterilization, medicine, energy solutions, and manufacturing.

Topics of Interest

INTRODUCTION TO PROPELLANTS A propellant is an explosive material which undergoes rapid and predictable combustion (without detonation) resulting in a large volume of hot gas. This gas can be used to...

EXPLOSIVE POWER AND POWER INDEX In an explosive reaction, heat and gases are liberated. The volume of gas V and the heat of explosion Q can both be calculated independently but these values can be...

In this chapter some examples of green chemical technology which have met with commercial success are discussed. The examples have been chosen to reflect a cross-section of both the industry and the...

4 Aryl Nitro Compounds The sulfonation of aromatic nitro compounds is not of great synthetic importance because it is generally easier to nitrate an aromatic sulfonic acid.1 However, in some cases,...

Introduction A chemical explosive may be defined as a compound or mixture of compounds that reacts very rapidly to produce relatively large amounts of gas and heat. The rate of detonation is very...