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(Washington Post)   Government scientists can't build a bomb that won't blow up   (washingtonpost.com) divider line 16
    More: Strange, government scientist, Sandia National Laboratories, two-lane road, crop yields, home runs  
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5518 clicks; posted to Main » on 19 Jun 2013 at 9:51 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-06-19 10:00:04 AM
One of the more closely guarded secrets.... Let us describe where it is
 
2013-06-19 10:01:08 AM
Taco Bell is working on the same thing.
 
2013-06-19 10:13:03 AM
But put aluminum foil and  'the works' in a soda bottle and you get kicked out of school...
 
2013-06-19 10:25:03 AM
Stopped reading at the camouflage jackets and dark wraparound sunglasses.
 
2013-06-19 10:27:24 AM
Reminds me of that time they intentionally crashed a jet to demonstrate a new fuel additive which would prevent it from catching fire.
 
2013-06-19 10:46:50 AM
Chemistry nerd time: the reaction  N2 + 3 H2 → 2 NH3  (Haber-Bosch synthesis of ammonia) has both saved and killed more people in history than basically anything else.  2% of the worlds *entire* energy supply goes into feeding this reaction.

Without it, the world is a very different place.  You can only naturally get large amounts of fixed nitrogen from sources like guano, which used to exist on a few islands covered in bird crap.  Mining it was a matter of critical national importance: one of the first naval battles in WW1 between Germany and Britain occurred off the coast of Argentina because the shipping of guano from some islands off of Chile was the only decent way to get enough fixed nitrogen for explosives.  Without Haber coming up with this process, there is no WW1- Germany wouldn't have been able to make ammunition.  WWII would have been completely impossible on the scale it was.

On the flip side, without synthetic fertilizer, you can't grow anywhere near enough food to feed 7 billion people.  I've read analyses that show if you converted every square inch of land to farmland and then used completely natural techniques, you could support roughly 4 billion people.  Something like half the nitrogen in your body today was fixed by this reaction: the other half comes from natural bacteria fixation.

/End chemistry nerd time
 
2013-06-19 10:49:18 AM
Ammonium nitrate, which packs a fearsome punch, is used in more than 60 percent of the Taliban's bombs. It's also essential to farming; without it, thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis would starve.

Problem solved.....
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-06-19 12:31:22 PM
Solid rocket fuel is an explosive that doesn't blow up... until you put it in a thick enough container to allow pressure to build.
 
2013-06-19 12:35:27 PM
The other bomb contained the Sandia fertilizer, which includes an iron sulfate additive that is supposed to split the ammonium nitrate into two nonexplosive compounds: iron nitrate and ammonium sulfate.

Not sure why they thought this would work. There's still oxidizer (nitrate) and fuel (ammonium) in there. Also, seeing as how its green, I'm assuming the Fe is in the +2 oxidation state, which is pretty damn oxidizable on its own. Furthermore, I don't see how they can argue that throwing hundreds of pounds of iron salts onto fields year after year wouldn't effect crop yield. Iron is pretty nasty stuff.

If detonation is a radical process, they might be able to include some sort of radical quencher to strangle the reaction before it really gets rolling. However, when push comes to shove, ammonium nitrate is a salt, so to purify it all you have to do is dissolve it in water and leave it in the sun to recrystallize, then remove the brine which contains any funny stuff that was added to it. Kind of a tedious process, but I'm assuming the terrorist interns probably have a lot of time on their hands to do such things.
 
2013-06-19 12:42:12 PM

Glockenspiel Hero: Without it, the world is a very different place. You can only naturally get large amounts of fixed nitrogen from sources like guano, which used to exist on a few islands covered in bird crap.


There were also the Birkeland-Eyde and Frank-Caro processes. Much less efficient than Haber's method, but better than transporting bird crap from halfway around the planet.
 
2013-06-19 12:43:13 PM

darth_badger: Taco Bell is working on the same thing.


I think that might come under the heading of "biological weapons" or "nerve gas".
 
2013-06-19 01:03:43 PM
On a secret base an hour from DC. Aberdeen? That could be an hour away if the traffic was perfect. Bwhahahahahahahahahahaha
 
2013-06-19 01:25:40 PM

Ivo Shandor: Reminds me of that time they intentionally crashed a jet to demonstrate a new fuel additive which would prevent it from catching fire.


They should show that video at the start of every flight right after the seatbelt demonstration.
 
2013-06-19 02:21:30 PM
So, I would assume that ANFO is out of the question for these guys? I would say it is more likely than wasting a ton of powdered aluminum.
 
2013-06-19 07:33:44 PM

washington-babylon: So, I would assume that ANFO is out of the question for these guys? I would say it is more likely than wasting a ton of powdered aluminum.


The point was to find a way to come up with a non-toxic additive to fertilizer so then we could curb the rampant homemade bombs using the same crap the farmers have to get in bulk to fertilize fields.
 
2013-06-19 11:38:02 PM

xellas84: washington-babylon: So, I would assume that ANFO is out of the question for these guys? I would say it is more likely than wasting a ton of powdered aluminum.

The point was to find a way to come up with a non-toxic additive to fertilizer so then we could curb the rampant homemade bombs using the same crap the farmers have to get in bulk to fertilize fields.


Yes, but you missed the point. Powdered aluminum of the correct mesh to react is not something a former goat farmer hiding in a cave in Afghanistan is going to have just laying around. It has very little use for anything else than explosives, save for the fact that it can make a decent polishing media. What WILL be easily available to anyone over there is "Fuel Oil" otherwise known as Diesel (of the correct grade) or Kerosene. So that was why I was questioning the use of aluminum in this experiment, as it does not reflect proper test conditions.
 
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