How dangerous ammonium nitrate can be? - Seeker's Thoughts

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How dangerous ammonium nitrate can be?

Ever since storage facilities kept about 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded in Beirut, Lebanon, import and storage of the country's chemical has come under the scanner.

But why is ammonium nitrate so dangerous to keep?

Ammonium nitrate is a crystal-like white solid which is made in substantial industrial quantities. It has been massively used as a  nitrogen fertilizer source; it is also used to create explosives for mining.


Ammonium nitrate is synthetic, and it is made by reacting ammonia with nitric acid, it can’t be found in the ground.

Keeping in storage can be a problem, and it has been associated with severe industrial accidents in the past.

Ammonia nitrate is relatively safe to handle; however, if you have a large amount of material lying around for a long time, it begins to decay.


It can be dangerous over time. It absorbs a little bit of moisture, and it eventually turns into an enormous rock. This makes it more dangerous because if the fire reaches it, the chemical reaction will be more intense.

If you have noticed, the explosion happened in Beirut earlier in August showed smoke billowing from a fire and then a mushroom cloud following the blast.

There is a supersonic shockwave that is traveling through the air, and you can see that in the white spherical cloud which travels out from the center, expanding upwards.


Basically, the shockwave is produced from compressed air, the air expands rapidly and cools suddenly, and the water condenses, which cause the cloud.

What and how menacing are the gases produced?

When ammonium nitrate explodes, it can release toxic gases, including nitrogen oxides and ammonia gas.

The orange plume is caused by nitrogen dioxide, which is often associated with air pollution.

If there isn’t much wind, it could lead to danger to the people nearby.


Ammonium nitrate has been used by armies around the world as an explosive.

It has also been used in many terrorist acts, including the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Two tonnes of ammonium nitrate created a bomb that destroyed a federal building and killed around 168 people.

In 1921, about 45 00 tonnes of ammonium nitrate caused an explosion at a plant in Oppau, Germany, killing more than 500 people.

In 1947, the deadliest industrial accident in US history occurred in Texas, which killed 581 people when more than 2,000 tonnes of the chemical detonate on-boarded a ship that had docked in the port.

In 2015, an explosion involving ammonium nitrate and other chemicals killed 173 people in Tianjin, northern China.


Ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), a salt of ammonia and nitric acid. The commercial-grade contains about 33.5% nitrogen, all of which is in forms utilizable by plants; it is the most common nitrogenous artificial fertilizer component. Ammonium nitrate is also employed to modify other explosives' detonation rates, such as nitro-glycerine in the so-called ammonia dynamites, or as an oxidizing agent ammonals are mixtures of ammonium nitrate and powdered aluminum.

It is a colorless crystalline substance (melting point 169.6 °C [337.3 °F]). It is highly soluble in water; the water solution's heating decomposes the salt to nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Because solid ammonium nitrate can undergo explosive decomposition when heated in a confined space, government regulations have been imposed on its shipment and storage.


 

 

 

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