Impact, Thermal, And Shock Sensitivity Of Molten TNT And Of Asphalt-Contaminated Molten TNT
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Impact, Thermal, And Shock Sensitivity Of Molten TNT And Of Asphalt-Contaminated Molten TNT

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      The research reported here was part of the effort to evaluate the safety of a process to recover TNT from MK-9 depth bombs by the autoclave melt out process. In this process the depth bombs are heated to 121°C so that the TNT will melt and run into a vat. Unfortunately, asphalt lining the inside surface of the bomb also melts and flows out with the TNT. It is not known what effect the asphalt contamination and the higher than normal process temperatures (12°C) would have on the sensitivity of the TNT. Testing was conducted on molten TNT and molten TNT contaminated with 2 pct asphalt at 90, 100, 110, 120, 125, and 130°C. In the liquid drop test apparatus with a 2 kg weight, the molten TNT yielded a 50 pct probability of initiation at a drop height of 6.5 cm at 110°C,decreasing to 4.5 cm at 130°C. Asphalt-contaminated TNT was somewhat less impact sensitive than pure TNT at temperatures of 110 to 125°C, but became more sensitive at 130°C; 50 pct probability of initiation at a drop height of 7.8 cm at 110°C, decreasing to 3.3cm at 130°C. In the card gap test, the molten TNT detonated at high velocity for a gap of 0.25 inches at 90 to 125°C and detonated at high velocity for a gap of 0.5 inches at 130°C. For gaps of 0.5 to 3 inches at 90 to 125°C and 0.75 inches to 3 inches at 130°C, the TNT did not detonate at high velocity but produced a violent explosion that caused significant damage to the test fixture. For gaps of 4 inches the TNT did not react. In the gap test there was no significant difference between the pure and asphalt-contaminated TNT. The thermal analysis test results showed that when asphalt is present in TNT, it greatly accelerates the exothermic decomposition of TNT, starting at temperatures near 200°C. The research demonstrated that asphalt-contamination of recovered TNT does not appear to have a significant effect on TNT shock sensitivity, but does adversely affect impact and thermal sensitivity. The results also showed that molten TNT seems to be more shock sensitive than previously suspected. It appears that at relatively low shock stimulus levels, the molten TNT may be undergoing a low velocity detonation, wherein the shock wave traveling through the gap test pipe cavitates the molten TNT, greatly increasing its sensitivity.
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