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129.5 °C, 403 K, 265 °F

Decomposes at 187 °C

2,4,6-Trinitrophenylmethylnitramine commonly referred to as tetryl (C7H5N5O8) is a sensitive explosive compound used to make detonators and explosive booster charges.

Tetryl is a nitramine booster explosive, though its use has been largely superseded by RDX. Tetryl is a sensitive secondary high explosive used as a booster, a small charge placed next to the detonator in order to propagate the detonation into the main charge.


Chemical properties

Tetryl is a fine yellow crystalline material. When tetryl is heated, it first melts, then decomposes and explodes. It burns readily and is more easily detonated than explosive D.[1]

It is a yellow crystalline solid powder material, practically insoluble in water but soluble in acetone, benzene and other solvents. It burns readily and is more easily detonated than TNT or ammonium picrate, being about as sensitive as picric acid. It is detonated by friction, shock, or spark. It remains stable at all temperatures which may be encountered in storage. It is generally used in the form of pressed pellets, and has been approved as the standard bursting charge for small-caliber projectiles, since it gives much better fragmentation than TNT. It also has greater shattering ability than any other military high explosive, and must be properly protected from bullet fire. Its explosive velocity is 23,600-23,900 feet per second. Tetryl is the basis for the service tetryl blasting caps necessary for positive detonation of TNT. A mixture of mercury fulminate and potassium chlorate is included in the cap to insure detonation of tetryl.[1]

Environmental fate

The most toxic ordnance compounds, tetryl and 1,3,5-TNB, are also the most degradable. Therefore these chemicals are expected to be short-lived in nature, and environmental impacts would not be expected in areas that are not currently subject to chronic inputs of these chemicals. Tetryl decomposes rapidly in methanol/water solutions, as well as with heat. All aqueous samples expected to contain tetryl should be diluted with acetonitrile prior to filtration and acidified to pH < 3. All samples expected to contain tetryl should not be exposed to temperatures above room temperature. In addition, degradation products of tetryl appear as a shoulder on the 2,4,6-TNT peak. Peak heights rather than peak areas should be used when tetryl is present in concentrations that are significant relative to the concentration of 2,4,6-TNT.[1]

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