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Playing with Nitroglycerin

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#1 Ubehage



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Posted 11 October 2017 - 09:43 PM

Let me start by saying, this is not my own video. I wouldn't dare nitrate glycerol, and the finished product I guess is Unobtainium to me.


Anyway.. To the point:

In this video, he demonstrates and explains the properties of Nitroglycerin, and I found it quite interesting.


First of all, NG will not explode if it's not under pressure. Period!

If not pressurized/confined in some way, it will not explode!


I know, from other sources, that NG will burn very well. It's a bit more flammable than the alcohol we use in pyro, so not as "explosive" as gasoline.

It's auto-ignition temperature is 270 Celsius (518 Fahrenheit), and it does produce it's own heat by both friction and pressure.


Enough talk, here is the video:

Blowing shit up is not a goal in itself. Seeing your device working the way you intended, is the greatest satisfaction of all.

#2 greenlight



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Posted 12 October 2017 - 12:45 AM

I would attribute the sensitivity mainly to thermal hotspot occurence rather than only pressure of its confinement but I suppose the two do corellate.
The tiny vapor bubbles in the liquid NG are heated from compression when subjected to shock from an impact and raise the temperature to initiation level.

I have also heard that the electronegativity of the NO3 groups puts more of a positive charge on the carbons causing them to bend away from each other slightly which would also attribute to the sensitivity.

The first test with the plastic container still had pressure exerted on the sample between the bullet and the wood back stop which should be enough to initiate the NG. I have initiated a drop before with a hammer on a plank of wood.
Maybe the container ruptured and spilt the contents relieving the pressure before the bullet had a chance to properly interact and form hotspots. The metal container is much stronger so this could not happen.

If you look at the nitroglycerin it is cloudy white in his video, which means it contains water and has not been dried. This could also affect sensitivity maybe.

Just my 2 cents.

Edited by greenlight, 12 October 2017 - 12:45 AM.

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#3 AllisterF


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Posted 13 October 2017 - 07:47 PM

Interesting video, I remember my Advanced Placement High School Chemistry teacher using his experience with nitroglycerin as a word caution of a thinking first about the outcome before jumping right in educational experience...  He told us that in college him and a few buddies got bored making nitrogen triiodide paste and using it for so called 'practical jokes' (jokes that would result in felony charges nowadays, so I won't go into details of what he said they did with it) decided to make nitroglycerin one weekend for the heck of...  Then the teaching moment came, once they had actually made a batch (that was apparently quite large) they all looked at each other and said "WTH are we going to do with it now?"

Edited by AllisterF, 13 October 2017 - 07:49 PM.

#4 Wolverine



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Posted 28 January 2018 - 09:33 PM

That first test with the knife was stupid dangerous...
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#5 PeteyPyro



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Posted 29 January 2018 - 12:12 AM

Fascinating stuff, but unfortunately I just can't see how "PLAYING with Nitroglycerin" is either safe or useful in amateur pyro, This thread might be better in HE, (or locked).

Edited by PeteyPyro, 31 January 2018 - 08:29 PM.

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Pyrotechnician. It's not an ocupation. It's a diagnosis. Please WEAR YOUR PPE!!!

#6 dynomike1



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Posted 31 January 2018 - 08:55 AM

How sensitive is NG? I know what you said about hitting with a hammer, but that would be alot of shock.

There are very few problems that cant be solved with explosives.
                             Explosives are a bang up job.

#7 Arthur



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Posted 31 January 2018 - 02:03 PM

NG in theory is reasonably sensitive -too much so for a use alone in HE now. However it degrades and is difficult to store and as a liquid it flows -even if you think you've adsorbed it or gelled it. DIY NG contains every possible impurity from the process so can be hard to use and very sensitive.


Best watched on youtube!

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#8 greenlight



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Posted 31 January 2018 - 07:17 PM

I have made it quite a few times and it is definitely not an ideal energetic. But I have found that if it is washed excessively to remove all acid traces and then remove the water in a desiccator it is quite stable and less sensitive than most primary explosives. It would still be more sensitive than the pyrotechnic comps though (whistle/flash) and being a liquid makes it more difficult to handle.
A drop needs to be soaked into a tissue to be detonated with a hammer and merely placing a drop on a floor and hitting it usually just spreads it around.

If synthesised correctly with temperature control and good quality reagents, the only real impurities would be the dinitro form and acid traces.. the acid traces are the worst in my opinion and will definitely increase the sensitivity and degradation especially after a couple.of days. Of made properly and dried it looks exactly like the original glycerin.
Sobrero or Nobel (can't remember off the top of my head)
Stored a washed sample for years in his lab.
I would definitely recommend experience with safer energetics before making NG.

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