This may not be everything you
ever wanted to know about nitro but its a great start.
Nitromethane is one of a group
of chemicals known as nitroalkanes, which consist of an alkane
molecule, such as methane, ethane, or propane, in which one of
the hydrogen atoms has been replaced by a nitro group (-NO2).
Nitromethane is used in a number of products, including fuels,
explosives, solvents, preservatives, and pharmaceuticals. Angus's
nitromethane production process results in the joint production
of four nitroalkanes, of which nitromethane has the highest value.
Standard Nitromethane (CH3NO2)
becomes Di-Nitromethane when exposed to UV (Ultra Violet rays
as from the sun or "other means") and is more entertaining
to run. All commercially available Nitromethane is never available
at 100%. Some agreement with the ICC. It is typically cut (reduced
in concentration) by approximately 2% or so with Benzene or "other"
agents. Besides, 100% won't light very well without being cut
with something. Back in the old days, some few folks were indeed
getting hold of REAL 100% (from other than normal suppliers)
and cut the load by 2% with spectrophotometric benzene (not your
normal get it anywhere Benzene).
Comments about purple nitro:
Potassium Permanganate (KMnO4) can be mixed and although a slurry,
can be burned with either methanol or nitromethane, or nitropropane.
Also one can add methyl purple (no gain, just fun coloring),
methyl orange, or methyl blue. You can even add oil of wintergreen
if you wish.
Like an atomic device, the separate
components of a fission-fusion device are relatively benign,
but when a special set of artificial conditions is created it
will produce a dramatic result. Nitromethane is the atomic equivalent
of uranium U235 (Raw uranium is about 99.3% U238 and about 0.7%
U235 which is the stuff that goes bang, and the reason for all
the refining). Getting it to burn is a major problem, it needs
lots of heat. But once the correct temperature is achieved, it
will give more energy than most people can use.
A match will not light nitromethane.
Dropped into a pool of nitro spillage floor, the match will sizzle
and extinguish just as if it had fallen in a pool of tap water.
But take a hammer and hit the pool - it will explode. The small
amount of fuel caught between the hammer face and the concrete
floor will become unstable and cause a spontaneous fire which
occurs quickly enough to be labeled an explosion. The tiny bit
of lit fuel is hot enough to set off the rest. And bigger the
pool, the bigger the explosion. Enough nitro and the result will
be a good-sized crater in the cement floor.
Joe Fette, a former vice president
and general manager of Angus Chemical, worked intimately with
the nitromethane departments, and remembers when the discovery
was made. "The condition first came about by accident,"
says Fette. "Luckily, it was an accident where nobody was
killed. But nitromethane used to be shipped in tank cars before
this condition was known. Two separate accidents within a year
of each other stopped that. The tank cars exploded, leaving holes
800ft wide and 300ft deep. Luckily, these were out in unpopulated
areas. What happened is that the fuel was compressed when it
slammed into the other car (as the train crashed). There were
also rumors of power lines being around, although that was never
Regardless of an external spark,
the impact had sufficient force to begin the reaction that would
ignite the explosive. The liquid, trapped inside the tanks, had
nowhere to go and compressed itself. Under those circumstances
it detonated by itself - at least in the corner of the container
that suffered the largest degree of compression. With the initial
explosion, extreme heat - the second factor that contributes
to nitromethane's instability - was already building up. With
nowhere to go the heat spread through the compressed fuel in
the tanker, setting the entire railroad car on fire before the
structure had been punctured. The result was an explosion that
changed the land's geography".
The Chinese nitro is still being
made in China at a specially constructed plant. It is imported
to the US by Wego Chemical Company in NY. It is made by a different
process than the Angus (now Dow Chemical as of 2 or 3 years ago)
nitro. A test was done on the three nitro products that were
available in 1996 and they found the Chinese nitro to be more
pure than the Angus nitro, and much more pure than the product
that VP was selling at the time. Those results may not hold up
now, but they were accurate at the time the products were tested.
Nitromethane CH 3NO
2 CAS Reg. No. 75-52-5 EINECS No. 200-87-66
Nitromethane, if not properly
handled, stored, or used, can be dangerous and can detonate.
Nitromethane should only be handled, stored, or used by trained
personnel who fully understand nitromethane properties and have
read and understand this data sheet.
Nitromethane (NM) is a versatile
chemical with a wide variety of industrial applications. It is
used as a stabilizer for halogenated hydrocarbons, as a component
of special fuels for internal combustion engines, as a solvent
for polymers in coating, and as an synthesis of many useful chemicals
such as chloropicrin and tris (hydroxymethyl) aminomethane.
Nitromethane was first prepared
in 1872 by Kolbe, and for many years was considered to be very
stable compound. It was not until 1938 that McKittrick and coworkers
reported nitromethane could be detonated under conditions of
The characteristics of nitromethane
have been studied by agencies such as the U.S. Army Chemical
Corps and the California Institute of Technology. These studies
have identified three conditions under which nitromethane can
(A) A very sever shock, in excess
of that provided by a No. 8 blasting cap can initiate detonation;
(B) Server and very rapid compression under adiabatic conditions
can cause detonation;
(C) Liquid nitromethane can be detonated when heated under confinement
to near its critical
Sensitization of nitromethane
will increase the ease of initiation of detonation by all of
these mechanisms. Nitromethane is sensitized by addition of a
few percent of certain compounds, particularly amines, or by