HistoryIt was discovered in the year 1863 by a chemist named Julius Wilbrand . Originally for around three decades it was used as dye ( Yellow in colour ) . It’s true potential as an explosive was realised later on due to difficulty to detonate as it was way less sensitive as compared to other such materials. It’s explosive nature was discovered by a German chemist named Carl Häusserman in the year 1891 .The lack of sensitivity even led to its non consideration as an explosive under the UK’s Explosive act 1875 . TNT can hence be poured easily into shell case when in liquid state. Germany adopted TNT as filling in artillery shell. The use of TNT by Germany came to be an asset as it explodes post entering the armour unlike the Britain’s lyddite filled shells which explode on contact and hence TNT Shells had an upper hand and caused greater damage Later the United States Navy also used TNT in the torpedoes, naval mines etc in two specific forms: a crude grade B TNT and a granular crystallised A TNT.
PreparationIn industry the preparation is a three step process .The first step is production of mononitrotoluene (MNT) that requires nitration in presence of sulfuric and nitric acid . MNT is separated and nitrated to form Dinitrotoluene post that Trinitrotoluene which requires a anhydrous mixture of oleum and nitric acid for production. The sulfuric acid used is collected and reused while the nitric acid is consumed in the given three stage process. After the final step in order to stabilise the final product TNT another process which is known as sulfitation is performed.
- As mentioned above the most common use of TNT is as an explosive in the defence sector , industries and in certain mining applications.
- Used in a process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking .This is basically a process wherein oil and gas are extracted from shale formations .Here TNT is used in pelletized form .
- It is less sensitive as compared to other counter compounds like nitroglycerin and hence wide usage because of better safety in storage and transfer .
- It can be used in wet environments as it neither aborbs or dissolves in water.
- Available in a variety of sizes like blocks of 250g, 500g ,1000g etc.
- It is also available in combination with other ingredients .like in a blended form which includes some amount of TNT along with other ingredients .some examples of these explosive blends are -Amonal which is nothing but ammonium nitrate and powder of aluminium plus charcoal , then cyclotol -RDX ,TNT , picratol ,torpex,octol , minol etc.
DetectionVarious methods are used for detection of TNT these are as follows:-
- Optical sensors
- Electrochemical sensors
- Explosive – sniffing dogs
- An initiative by Indian institute of technology(IIT) in2013 wherein they used a Noble- metals quantum cluster to detect TNT .
- TNT is poisonous and when it comes in contact with skin, our skin tuna is bright orange or yellow in colour . It causes skin irritation
- Disease like Anaemia and abnormal liver functions is a common case in people who are exposed to TNT for a time
- In animals who ingest Trinitrotoluene or breath it has problems such as blood and liver dysfunction , spleen enlargement and compromised immune system
- It also has a possible effect on male fertility
- It is possible human carcinogen
- Ingesting TNT produces red urine due to breakdown of products
- The munition or testing grounds of TNT generally have contaminated subsurface and surface water
- TNT has a property of exudation that is the process to leak through pores this can cause denotation
Ecological impactThe residual TNT from manufacturer , storage can contaminate soil ,air and water .In the year 2001 the United States environment protection agency declared TNT as. A pollutant and has set a particular standard . According to USPA the TNT in soil should not exceed 17.2 grams per kilogram of soil 0.01 milligrams per litre of water. TNT till now is not biodegradable by any organism in soil but plants can produce phytoremediate explosive from soil.
TNT as an explosive is most widely used but on coming nyo it’s environment impact and impact on humans and animals that huge. So proper care while using and disposing of waste related to TNT manufacture and post use in the form of explosives should be taken in order to prevent the impact on the environment ,humans and animals.
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