Ammonia Nitrate Explosions In History:

It is predominately used as a high nitrogen fertilizer. To provide good nutrients to plant and which help in growth

On 4th August 2020 at 6.PM, a massive explosion shook the country Lebanon as well as the whole world. The reason behind the explosion is Ammonia Nitrate . And as per the Lebanon’s Prime Minister said that an estimated 2,750 tons of the explosive ammonium nitrate had been stored at a warehouse in Beirut for six years.

History of Ammonia Nitrate Explosions

In 1947, an accident in U.S occurred in the port of Texas city. The disaster happened because of carelessness.  The cigarette started to burn in a ship carrying about 2300 tons of ammonium nitrate packed in paper sacks. It is very sad to know just because of single cigarette so many people have to lose their life. An explosion caused a powerful blast which knock people to ground in Galveston, Texas, 10miles away. 

1947, ammonia nitrate explosion in texas
Explosion in Texas US
explosion in texas due to ammonia nitrate in 1947
Texas explosion in 1947

This contrast of explosion also caused a chain reaction with a nearby ship, which also carries ammonium nitrate. During this explosion nearly 581 people were killed.

Similar I have pen down few more disaster due to ammonium nitrate.  In 1921, factory in Oppau, Germany killed 561 people.

explosion in germany in 1921
Image Credit: taproot.com
In 1921, explosion in Germany due to ammonia nitrate
Image Credit:- Mentalfloss.com

And in 2015 in the port of Tianjin china, killed 173 people. The blast also held in Neyshabur, Iran in 2004, Toulouse, France in 2001 and there are many more still.

Ammonia nitrate explosion in tianjin china
Image Credit:-independent.co.uk
Explosion in china 2004
Image Credit:-nytimes.com

These incidents clearly shows us that how much this chemical compound converts into an explosion element due to some uncaring human behavior.

But how much of us know about the Ammonia Nitrate, and what is the role of this compound in today’s world?? Let have a look

What is Ammonia Nitrate?

Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound with the chemical formula NH4NO3. It is a white crystalline solid consisting of ions of ammonium and nitrate.  It is highly soluble in water and hygroscopic as a solid, although it does not from hydrates. Ammonium nitrate play dual role with environment. It is predominately used in agriculture as a high nitrogen fertilizer. To provide good nutrients plants for growth

Its other major use is as a component of explosive mixture used in mining, quarrying and civil construction.

How it converts in Explosions?

Ammonium nitrate is very sensitive. The compound is considered as an oxidizer, and mean at an atomic level (exciting level) it removes electrons from other substance in a chemical reaction.  In this we can sense that it increases the burning of fuels by increasing the oxygen around the compound.  But the logical fact is that Ammonium nitrate can’t burn itself, it needs to come in contact with an open flame or any other ignition source.  

Once a reaction is sparked ammonium nitrate exploded widely. Do to explosion ammonium nitrate decomposes (break down) very rapidly into two gases nitrous oxide and water vapor.

As we know recently on 5 august 2020 there is a massive explosion in Lebanon the capital of Beirut is due to ammonium nitrate.  The expert suggests firework were involved near by the storage of ammonium nitrate. 

Initial explosion to ignited a fire. While the secondly filled the sky with mushroom clouds. Lastly send a shock wave rippling across the city which end up while killing more than 100 people.

According to experts thinking, a bit of spark near the ammonium nitrate can create a big disasters that we can hardly imagine.

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