Dinitropolystyrene, or nitropolystyrene, is a very interesting explosive procedure involving the nitration of everyday polystyrene. That's the same stuff as Styrofoam, all those containers from fast food restaurants and packing from boxes. This lab calls for isotactic polystyrene, which is the crystalline version. I suppose you can use ordinary Styrofoam. This material has found a home as a mining explosive since it is stable and somewhat low powered. It will burn in the open and requires a suitably powerful explosive plus confinement to detonate.
|nitric acid||small beaker|
|fuming sulfuric acid|
Dinitropolystyrene is prepared by nitrating isotactic, or crystalline, polystyrene. Prepare an anhydrous nitration mixture by bubbling sulfur trioxide into concentrated sulfuric acid, making fuming sulfuric acid with about 50% free sulfur trioxide. Mix this acid with 100% nitric acid in the ratio of 4.51 parts nitric to 2 parts sulfuric in a small beaker. An example would be 45.1 mL of nitric acid mixed with 20 mL of sulfuric acid. Add the acids slowly and cool the mixture to 15-20 °C. While maintaining the cool temperature, add in the crystalline polystyrene. If you are using foamed polystyrene, break it up as much as possible. Add only as much as can still be covered by the acid. Stir the polystyrene for 3-5 minutes with a stirring rod, then heat the mixture to 50-55 °C for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Next, cool the mixture down to 25 °C and decant off as much of the acid as possible. Drown the dinitropolystyrene with water to dilute the remaining acids. Pour the contents over a filter to collect the dinitropolystyrene, wash it several times with water, and allow to dry. The yield should be about 33%. One explosive mixture uses 7.2% dinitropolystyrene along with 10.8% dinitrotoluene and 82.0% PETN. The detonation velocity of this mixture is 7520 m/s.
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