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Why was the Texas fertiliser plant explosion so deadly?
The Conversation ^ | 4-19-2013 | David Cliff

Posted on 04/20/2013 6:59:56 AM PDT by Sir Napsalot

(snip) What makes ammonium nitrate explosive?

Ammonium nitrate, a common fertiliser additive, is a white crystalline solid at room temperature.

It is stable except when it is contaminated with organic (carbon-based) material.

In practice, it is commonly mixed with fuel oil to form an industrial explosive (called ammonium nitrate/fuel oil, or ANFO) and is widely used in the mining industry.

In the case of the explosion in West, something had to heat the ammonium nitrate in the fertiliser factory to a critical temperature of 300C for it to auto-ignite.

This would need to be either organic contaminants reacting with the ammonium nitrate or a completely separate fire that spread to the ammonium nitrate storage area.

Video evidence confirms a major high temperature fire was burning for some time before the detonation occurred.

At high temperatures, ammonium and nitrogen dioxide are formed when ammonium nitrate breaks down, and can react together to produce massive amounts of heat.

If the heat isn’t dissipated and the reaction rate is allowed to escalate, the reaction will eventually cause detonation.

In West, it would appear all the damage done was caused by the pressure wave generated by the blast rather than toxic gases, though this has not yet been confirmed.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Science
KEYWORDS: ammoniumnitrate; texas
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To: pietraynor

Did e win? Is Chick-Fil-A still banned from opening a store in Boston?

51 posted on 04/20/2013 11:12:23 AM PDT by apocalypto
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To: MD Expat in PA

I think people were falsely assured that such an explosion could never occur at the plant. Look at where the plant is located, near where people work, live and go to school.

52 posted on 04/20/2013 11:24:42 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: metmom
He's referring to the Texas City disaster of 1947, which was caused by a boatload of ammonium nitrate going up during a fire. According to the Wikipedia, it killed "at least 581 people, including all but one member of the Texas City fire department."
53 posted on 04/20/2013 11:39:53 AM PDT by cynwoody
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Back in the day when Oppau went pow!

54 posted on 04/20/2013 12:11:21 PM PDT by Wally_Kalbacken
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To: Wally_Kalbacken
Back in the day when Oppau went pow!

Wasn't there a song about that by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs?

Oppau-pau, Boom, oh Wow. When the pile went Pow!

55 posted on 04/20/2013 12:22:07 PM PDT by USMCPOP (Father of LCpl. Karl Linn, KIA 1/26/2005 Al Haqlaniyah, Iraq)
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To: metmom; cripplecreek

“I read it was about 35 dead. Where did you get that number?”

The Texas City disaster of April 16, 1947 is the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history, and one of the largest non-nuclear explosions. Originating with a mid-morning fire on board the French-registered vessel SS Grandcamp (docked in the Port of Texas City), its cargo of approximately 2,300 tons (2,086,100 kg) of ammonium nitrate detonated,[1] with the initial blast and subsequent chain-reaction of further fires and explosions in other ships and nearby oil-storage facilities killing at least 581 people, including all but one member of the Texas City fire department.

56 posted on 04/20/2013 12:43:35 PM PDT by GGpaX4DumpedTea (I am a Tea Party descendant...steeped in the Constitutional Republic given to us by the Founders.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

We used an igniter at the bottom of the hole. The igniter was about the size of a hockey puck with a blasting cap wired into it.
Drop a rock in the hole to check for water. If none, then fill with ANFO to about 2 feet from the top. Fill remaining column with drill cuttings.
Wire everything to the blasting machine, blow the horn, then duck !

57 posted on 04/20/2013 12:55:39 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (NRA Life Member)
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To: tired&retired
...where more than 570 people died after a cargo ship laden with ammonium nitrate exploded.

There were actually two cargo ships carrying ammonium nitrate. On April 16, 1947, A French vessel the SS Grandcamp loaded with 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate to be turned into fertilizer. Docked at the Port of Texas City it erupted in flames, causing a massive explosion that killed approximately 576 people and flattened 1,000 buildings in the city. All of the city's firefighting equipment was destroyed in the blast and 26 firemen were killed. A second ship at the port, also carrying ammonium nitrate, caught fire in the blast and exploded 16 hours later. With the destruction of the city's fire-fighting equipment in the first blast, Texas City was helpless to contain the damage of the second blast.

It was the worst industrial accident in U.S. history.

On 21 September 1921 an explosion in a nitrogenous fertilizer plant near Oppau Germany involving some 4,500 tonnes of ammonium sulphonitrate fertilizer detonated creating a 90meter X 125meter crater, over 20meters deep. The official casualty report listed 561 deaths, 1,952 injured and 7,500 people left homeless. The explosion was heard in Munich, 275km from the plant. This was probably the largest non-nuclear explosion in history (excluding mother natures temper tantrums of course).


58 posted on 04/20/2013 2:39:01 PM PDT by Gandalf_The_Gray (I live in my own little world, I like it 'cuz they know me here.)
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To: TribalPrincess2U
said, "Another question. Shouldn’t all firefighters KNOW how to put out this type of fire?"

Especially when there is a huge fertilizer plant in the coverage area of that fire department.

I would bet the operators of the fertilizer plant were arguing with the fire department to turn off their hoses.
That is why they didn't leave. Why else would they be there?

59 posted on 04/20/2013 6:22:56 PM PDT by Steve Van Doorn (*in my best Eric Cartman voice* 'I love you, guys')
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To: Sir Napsalot
..prayers for all the families who lost loved ones and suffered injury in our country this week,


it has been strange to see that very little discussion has occurred about a horrible blast that killed at least 35 with over 200 injured being placed on the back burner to the Boston bombing.

Ceremonies, athletes giving profane tributes, and lots of celebration, as if all terrorism has ended--I suppose we must wait to grieve for West, Texas until Boston deals with their feelings...

60 posted on 04/21/2013 7:51:34 AM PDT by WalterSkinner ( In Memory of My Father--WWII Vet and Patriot 1926-2007)
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To: apocalypto
There are no Chik-Fil-A in Boston. The closest is in Burlington 20 miles away
61 posted on 04/21/2013 3:14:36 PM PDT by pietraynor (Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them. Ronald Reagan)
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