Ch.5: Nitro Compounds


Although the structures of explosive molecules vary greatly, most of the time, they contain a nitro group. This combination of one Nitrogen, and two oxygens (NO2), attached at the right position has greatly increased the world's ability to wage war. The destructive powers of an explosion come from a shock wave caused by the very rapid increase the volume of the nitro compound as it changes from solid or liquid into gas. This shock wave occurs because gases have a bigger volume than similar amounts of solids or liquids. Nitro compounds are an important component of explosions because, as we all know, an explosion cannot occur with out the presence of oxygen. The oxygen required for an explosive reaction must come from the molecule itself because oxygen from the atmosphere does not collect quickly enough. Thus, molecules with nitrogen and oxygen bonded together are often explosive. (Le Couteur & Burreson 87-104)