TNT (Trinitrotoluene) Videos

Trinitrotoluene (more commonly known as the explosive TNT) is a nitrated toluene derivative that exists as a pale yellow, crystalline solid at room temperature and melts at 82º C (178º F). The chemical is prepared by carefully nitrating toluene, and is often used as a high explosive. Unlike nitroglycerin, trinitrotoluene does not explode when affected by ordinary shocks and jarring. Its melting point is much lower than the temperature at which it explodes, making it safe to melt in steam-heated vessels and pour into artillery casings. Because it does not explode below 240º C (464º F), it must be ignited with a detonator, making it a favored chemical explosive for munitions and demolitions.

Without a detonator, it is a reasonably stable material. It does not attack metals, does not absorb moisture, and is practically insoluble in water. TNT dissolves in benzene and in acetone and, like all nitro compounds, reacts readily with chemical reducing agents. Trinitrotoluene can be absorbed through the skin, causing headache, anemia, and skin irritation.

TNT contamination of surface soil and water has become an environmental problem near manufacturing plants. Manufacturers sprayed water in their facilities to remove TNT dust that could be detonated by a spark. The dust-ladened water was typically sprayed into retention ponds or similar wet areas where the TNT accumulated, sometimes for more than 50 years. The results were dead zones where plants cannot grow. Some scientists have found that microorganisms, such as Pseudomonas and Klebsiella. Phytoremediation is also being studied, using aquatic plants such as parrot feather, elodea, and water hyacinths to remove TNT from contaminated water.

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