Tertiary explosives: how to better assess this emerging threat?

explosives chemistry

06 June 2023 13h15-13h45

by Cdt Dr Ir Romuald VAN RIET

Tertiary explosives are a serious and emerging threat in the context of homeland security, counterterrorism and counter-improvised explosive devices, and are therefore the subject of this research conducted in collaboration between the RMA's Energetic Materials Engineering Research Unit and the EOD Battalion. Tertiary explosives do not have the ability to detonate below a certain critical mass, which can range from 10 to 100 kg, and require a very powerful booster charge to do so. For this reason, in most cases they are not considered explosives under international regulations and are very often freely available on the market. However, they pose a significant threat, particularly when used in conjunction with a relatively small charge of homemade or illegally obtained explosive, which is used as a booster charge to detonate a much larger quantity of tertiary explosive. A specific threat assessment is required to determine the relevance of enforcing strict control of these substances on the market. In addition to economic considerations regarding the legitimate dual use of the substance, its overall performance, its ability to be detonated by homemade or illegally obtained explosives, and the quantity of booster explosives required are critical parameters in this risk assessment. In this webinar, the detonation performance of a disinfectant and bleaching agent commonly used in dental care will be presented to illustrate this issue. The challenges of studying the detonability of an explosive using kg scale homemade explosives will be explained and the solution of replacing homemade explosives with detonation simulants will be discussed. Finally, future work and perspectives on the characterisation of tertiary explosives are presented.

S4B link: https://join.mil.be/fabrice.louche/WR9KY88V

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