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Destruction of Peroxide Explosives

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Chemicals containing multiple peroxide functionalities, such as triacetone triperoxide (TATP), diacetone diperoxide (DADP), or hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD), can be explosive. They are impractical and are not used by legitimate military groups because they are shock and heat sensitive compared to military explosives. They are attractive to terrorists because synthesis is straightforward, requiring only a few easily obtained ingredients. Physical removal of these synthesis products is highly hazardous. This paper discusses methods to degrade peroxide explosives chemically, at room temperature. A number of mixtures containing metals (e.g., zinc, copper) and metal salts (e.g., zinc sulfate, copper chloride) were found effective, some capable of destroying TATP solutions in a few hours. Strong acids proved useful against solid peroxide materials; however, on a 1 g scale, addition of concentrated sulfuric acid caused TATP to detonate. Thus, this technique should only be used to destroy small-laboratory quantities.

Keywords: DADP; HMTD; TATP; destruction; explosives; forensic science; hydrogen peroxide; peroxides

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Chemistry Department, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881.

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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