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Oxidation reactions can be used to cause explosions due to the fact that these reactions can produce large volumes of products from a relatively small volume of reactants. The products mainly consist of hot gasses

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Chemistry Open Book Paper An oxidation reaction is where an element or compound burns in air thus reacting with oxygen. For example in a combustion reaction with carbon in air, carbon gains an oxygen molecule: C(s) + O2(g) CO2(g) The carbon has now gained oxygen and become carbon dioxide; also the oxidation state has risen from 0 to +4. Oxidation reactions can be used to cause explosions due to the fact that these reactions can produce large volumes of products from a relatively small volume of reactants. The products mainly consist of hot gasses including CO2 and SO2. The increase of gaseous products leads to an increase in pressure. In an open space the gasses can freely escape, however in a confined container, the increase in pressure leads to an explosion. The rate of oxidation depends on the amount of oxygen is present in the reaction. With the reaction to form CO2 the oxygen comes from the surrounding air, which is only 1/5th oxygen. To speed up an oxidation reaction the oxygen must be present within the reactants, in the form of an oxidiser such as Potassium Nitrate (KNO3). ...read more.


The next development was cellulose nitrate, accidentally formed by mixing sulphuric and nitric acid with cellulose: The fact that cellulose nitrate has it's own oxygen supply means that it can be triggered by a sudden impact rather than lighting fuse, also this meant that the reaction was faster therefore less smoke was given off. Nitro-glycerine was a natural by-product of soap making, it differed from nitro cellulose in that instead of being glucose based it was fat based. It is formed by reacting Glycerine with Nitric acid: C3H5(OH)3 + 3HNO3 C3H5(NO3)3 + 3H2O Nitro-glycerine was a high explosive; however it was very volatile and could detonate with little reason. Alfred Nobel was the first man to make a safe high explosive by mixing nitro-glycerine with a clay like substance to make a paste, which could be moulded in to shapes. This became known as dynamite; Nobel perfected the formula with different mixtures until it was perfected. Production of Nitrocellulose During the Second World War trinitroluene (TNT) was developed unlike nitro-glycerine TNT doesn't react with metals so it can be used in metal containers to make bombs. ...read more.


During the mid 1800s the Italian scientist, Sobero was experimenting with nitroglycerine. In his experiments Sobero tasted the substance to see if it was dangerous. Apart from a little nausea he was fine, however this was not very safe as nitro-glycerine could have also quite easily have killed him. When Nobel was experimenting with nitro-glycerine there was an explosion at his factory killing some chemists, after that the Swedish government prohibited the manufacture of nitro-glycerine near homes. Nobel was to carry out all his experiments on a barge in the middle of a lake. Sources * Box 1: Why does gunpowder explode? * Cordite from Conkers - "Conkering Cordite" by Wilson Flood, Chemistry Review, Volume 10, Number 2, November 2000 * http://tickers.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A6958812 information on making cordite. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetone information on making cordite * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulose information on nitrocellulose * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explosives information on high an low explosives * Box 2: Cellulose Nitrate * "The Big Bang - a History of Explosives" by GI Brown, which appeared in chemistry review, Volume 9, Number 4, November 1999. * The chemistry of explosives pg 11 - Table of comparisons for high and low explosives. Picture sources * http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/sectCannon.jpg - Shells that contain cordite. * http://www.chemistrydaily.com/chemistry/upload/1/1e/TNT.png - TNT molecule. ?? ?? ?? ?? Mark Drake Candidate Number: 0174 Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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