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Topic: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives  (Read 1016 times)

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Offline Babcock_Hall

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calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« on: December 13, 2021, 11:55:42 AM »
Hi Everyone,

A common subject in forensic chemistry is explosives.  One concept that arises is that of oxygen balance.  One writes a balanced equation for an explosive compound assuming that all hydrogens are in water, all carbons are in carbon dioxide, and all nitrogens are in N2.  One then calculated whether the number of oxygen atoms is less than, equal to, or greater than the number needed in the balanced equation.  Based on an example, it seems that O2 is written on the product side with either a + or a - sign in front.  If the formula of the explosive is CaHbNcOd, the the oxygen balance is d - 2a - 1/2b (Bell S, Forensic Chemistry, 2nd ed., p. 395; she acknowledges that this method has shortcuts).  For TNT the number is -74.0%, and for NG it is +3.5%.  These numbers are weight percents.  Suzanne Bell wrote. "The oxygen balance gauges are useful for designing explosive formulations that come close to having a next zero oxygen balance."

In Chapter 5 of Forensic Chemistry: Fundamentals and Applications (Siegel J, ed), John Goodpaster also discussed the concept of oxygen balance on pages 189-191.  He wrote that an oxygen balance of zero should achieve the greatest explosive power.  He noted that one can combine explosives in a mixture to achieve an oxygen balance of near zero.  Yet he also wrote that this is not the sole factor that is considered in formulating commercial mixtures of explosives.

Recently in a thread on the explosion of a mesylate in this sub-forum, the question of oxygen balance came up.  I have two questions.  One is how should other elements be treated in a balanced equation of a compound containing sulfur, for example?  Two in evaluating the possibility of an explosion hazard in a novel compound, does the concept of oxygen balance provide any useful information?  My very provisional answer to the latter question is that there is limited value.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2021, 12:10:58 PM by Babcock_Hall »

Offline rolnor

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2021, 02:46:05 PM »
This calculations are usefull when you have nitro groups in the molecule, you can not use them for any molecule containing oxygen and carbon. Also if you have peroxide groups it can probably be used. You need a system where moving oxygen from one atom to another releases energy. If you have acetone peroxide, breaking the weak oxygen-oxygen bond and creating two carbon-oxygen bonds instead releases energy.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2021, 03:03:19 PM by rolnor »

Offline Babcock_Hall

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2021, 02:59:21 PM »
Triacetonetriperoxide is an example of a peroxide-containing explosive, but I suspect that you already knew this.

Offline rolnor

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2021, 03:04:10 PM »
I missed your reply, please read my

Offline rolnor

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2021, 03:56:01 PM »
I think, with your formula, carbon dioxide would be a perfect high-explosive.

Offline Babcock_Hall

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2021, 04:45:07 PM »
Suzanne Bell wrote (p. 371) "When the oxygen balance is negative and relatively large, CO will form in preference to CO2.  In other words the system is under oxidized and lean."

Offline Orcio_87

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2021, 05:05:28 PM »
@Babcock_Hall The oxygen balance is nothing new, but the equation you posted ("If the formula of the explosive is CaHbNcOd, the the oxygen balance is d - 2a - 1/2b") is not quite correct:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_balance
« Last Edit: December 13, 2021, 05:51:55 PM by Orcio_Dojek »

Offline Borek

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2021, 06:03:47 PM »
@Babcock_Hall The oxygen balance is nothing new, but the equation you posted ("If the formula of the explosive is CaHbNcOd, the the oxygen balance is d - 2a - 1/2b") is not quite correct:

Have you read the whole post?

she acknowledges that this method has shortcuts
ChemBuddy chemical calculators - stoichiometry, pH, concentration, buffer preparation, titrations.info, pH-meter.info

Offline rolnor

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2021, 09:01:14 AM »
Suzanne Bell wrote (p. 371) "When the oxygen balance is negative and relatively large, CO will form in preference to CO2.  In other words the system is under oxidized and lean."

Yes, this is my point. You want CO2 to form but if you dont understand that the oxygen should be bound weakly to a hetereoatom like nitrogen in you explosive material or be present as a peroxide bond you will end up with CO2 being a perfect explosive. Its just like saying that H2O would be very flammable. You need to analyze the structure before using this formula or it will be completely useless.

Offline Babcock_Hall

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2021, 09:47:56 AM »
Neither I nor anyone else that I know of is suggesting that oxygen balance is the only property to examine.  Nor did I make the claim that this is a new concept.  Let me return to an issue I raised in my opening post.  Bell's Table 12.1 provides 34.0 39.2 as the oxygen balance values for ammonium perchlorate and potassium chlorate.  Therefore, there must be a way to treat atoms besides C, H, O, and N.

Offline rolnor

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2021, 11:23:31 AM »
But you suggested to use this to analyze the di-mesylate and when I opposed to this you went on about the formula? Offcourse there are a lot of other explosives, lead azide etc. that is difficult to discuss in the same context as nitro-compounds but from the beginning it was about mesylates and nitrocompounds, do you understand why these to types of compounds can not be compared, with the formula? Why the formula is useless for mesylates?

Offline Babcock_Hall

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2021, 11:49:13 AM »
The reason I made a separate thread was because the reaction involving mesylates was beginning to look like an elimination (not a combustion), unless I am mistaken.  That was not clear to me at the beginning of the discussion of mesylates.

This thread is intended to be a more general consideration of oxygen balance, with either practical or pedagogical implications.  The title is a decent summary of what I thought was a good idea to discuss; this thread was never intended only to be about mesylates.  I teach a smattering of combustion chemistry in my forensic chemistry course, and I was considering whether or not to bring in oxygen balance.  The issue with mesylates is probably whether or not moving oxygen atoms to carbons to create some other form of sulfur is or is not thermodynamically favorable.  Provisionally, I accept that this is not favorable for sulfur, but it would seem to be favorable for at least two oxides containing chlorine.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2021, 12:10:04 PM by Babcock_Hall »

Offline rolnor

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2021, 12:52:49 PM »
Thanx, I am happy with that.

Offline Babcock_Hall

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2021, 02:11:28 PM »
I think, with your formula, carbon dioxide would be a perfect high-explosive.
Both Suzanne Bell (p. 372) and John Goodpaster (p. 189) indicated that one starts by writing a balanced combustion equation, then calculating oxygen balance.  The equation CO2  :rarrow: CO2 is not meaningful; therefore, one should not calculate the oxygen balance at all.

Offline Orcio_87

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Re: calculation and meaning of oxygen balance in explosives
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2021, 02:20:44 PM »
Quote
Both Suzanne Bell (p. 372) and John Goodpaster (p. 189) indicated that one starts by writing a balanced combustion equation, then calculating oxygen balance.  The equation CO2  :rarrow: CO2 is not meaningful; therefore, one should not calculate the oxygen balance at all.
Agree, but the "combustion" is wrong word here.

2 C7H5N3O6 (TNT) → 3 N2 + 5 H2 + 12 CO + 2 C

Where is the oxygen ? I don't see any combustion here.

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