ignites at 210 °C
PETN is an acronym for pentaerythritol tetranitrate, other names include 1,3-propanediol; 2,2-[bis-(nitroxy)methyl]-dinitrate; 2,2-bis[(nitrooxy)methyl]-1,3-propanediol (ester); 2,2-bishydroxymethyl-1,3-propanediol tetranitrate; nitropentaerythritol; niperyt; Lentrat; Hasethrol; Peritrate; Mycardol; Nitropenton; Pentral 80; Dilcoran-80; Terpate; Perityl; Pentritol; Pentanitrine; Prevangor; Subicard; Pentryate; Vasodiatol; Neo-Corovas; Pentafin; Quintrate; Pergitral; Metranil; Cardiacap; Angitet; dinitrate penta; niperyth; penthrit; penthrite; pentrit; nitropenta; NP; and TEN. While PETN can not be detonated by flame or fuse, it only burns in the open air, it is very easily detonated by shock. A blow from a hammer, dropping it on the floor, and using even a weak detonator will cause detonation. PETN was first prepared in 1894 by the German company Rneinisch Westfalalische Sprengstoff AG. PETN is used as the active ingredient in detonating cord, detonating cord is like a fuse that burns as fast as electricity flows (as fast as sound anyway, but that is only an analogy). The cord can slice a small tree in half from the heat, it was wrapped around prisoners of war when no shackles were handy. Anybody gets out of line... Ouch. PETN has also found uses in blasting caps, grenade filler, as a sometime replacement for RDX, mixed with plastics as a booster charge for insensitive explosives, and in medicine as a vasodilator. Another nifty use for it is in sheet explosive, like bed sheets, it can be used to harden and shape metals, wrap around objects and all sorts of wonderful things. PETN is a rather common and stable high explosive that is not very difficult to prepare. This lab will require white nitric acid which you can make and pentaerythritol, also called tetramethylol methane and 2,2-bis(hydroxymethyl)-1,3-propanediol. Pentaerythritol may have its uses in the paint industry but no use in the hands of the public. I have a method of synthesizing it, but it is vague. I will look for a better procedure.
|nitric acid||graduated cylinder|
In a 600-mL beaker, add 400 mL of white nitric acid and cool to below 5°C in a salt-ice bath. White nitric acid is made by adding a small amount of urea to fuming nitric acid then blowing dry air into the acid until it is colorless. 100 g of finely ground pentaerythritol is slowly added to the acid while stirring, keeping the temperature below 5°C. After all of the pentaerythritol has been added, the stirring and cooling are continued for 15 minutes. The mixture is then dumped in about 3 L of ice water. The crude product that should have formed is filtered to collect it, washed with water, and submerged in 1 L of hot 0.5% sodium carbonate solution for 1 hour. The crystals are again collected on a filter, washed with water, and allowed to dry. These washings are important to remove all traces of acid. To obtain a pure product, dissolve the crystals in hot acetone, allow to cool, then add an equal volume of water as you have of acetone. Filter to collect the crystals, wash with water, and allow 24 hours to dry. You will need a graduated cylinder for measuring liquids, a stirring rod or magnetic stirrer for mixing, and a thermometer to monitor the temperature.
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