Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Whats New in the Field of Blowing Things Up

Smaller Smart Bombs

The Wall Street Journal ran an article earlier this week about the Pentagon's quest for smaller, precision guided munitions. Called the "small diameter bomb" this thing has a much smaller radius of lethality than previous big bombs.

The problem with current smart bombs is that they're huge -- 2000 pounds of explosive or more. So, you can't take a house with it, only a neighborhood. So, smaller bombs are the new big thing in bomb making.

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New, powerful type of high explosive

Relative effectiveness factor (R.E. factor) is a measurement of an explosive's power for military demolitions purposes. It measures the detonating velocity relative to that of TNT, which has an R.E. factor of 1.00.
Some examples of RE factors include:
TNT = 1.00A
mmonia nitrate = 0.42
Black powder = 0.55
C4 = 1.34
HMX = 1.70
Nitroglycerine = 1.50
PETN = 1.66
RDX = 1.60

But the most powerful explosive is a University of Chicago developed one called Octanitrocubane. It's a shock-insensitive high explosive. The octanitrocubane molecule is really unique, shaped like a cube with nitro molecules hanging 90 degrees off each corner of the cube. When those bonds break, there's a ton of chemical energy released. It's RE factor is well over 2.0.

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Eco-friendly Explosives

New Scientist Magazine reports that a new type of explosive may make blowing things up more environmentally friendly. Researchers say they have developed a new compound to that doesn't contain lead. Evidently, there's a lot of lead pollution associated with current explosive chemicals

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