|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Dear User, Atmospheric explosions and vacuum explosions differ (obviously) by the fact that there is no oxygen and thus the explosive mixture has to be complete with oxidizer and fuel. Some atmospheric explosions can utilize oxygen and thus would not need intrinsic oxidizer or would need only small amounts of it. A typical example of an atmosphere-dependent explosion would be an infamous fuel-air bomb, FAB. Any explosive mixture or compound which does not require external oxidizer would be also explosive in space, if the following considerations are taken into account: 1) space is quite empty i.e. there is no atmospheric pressure to speak of. Most liquids and many solids would evaporate (sublime) given time. This may disrupt the balance of explosive mixture. Hence, if a volatile component is involved, the explosive device should be enclosed to prevent component loss. 2) vacuum is a poor conductor of heat. This fact can produce a variety of effects. On one side, heat dissipation would be slowed down and the mixture or compound would get hotter, and would react faster (I am only talking about relatively slow processes, because during actual explosion the pressure builds up so fast that there is very little difference between zero atm. and 1 atm. starting pressure. This may have effect on cumulative-heat type explosions i.e. when something has to gradually heat up before the actual explosion takes place. On the other side, gas-mediated effects may be slowed down because there is no heat transfer by the atmosphere. 3) given sufficient time in the shade, objects will cool down considerably. This one does not require much elaboration. In general, space explosions and atmpspheric explosions are very similar, except that there won't be much of a shockwave and that debris flies much farther/faster due to the absence of air friction. All single-component explosives such as tnt, hexamine, ng etc. will still be perfectly explosive in space. Some of those compounds will be volatile and would have to be protected (i.e. painted). Most of the mixtures, such as gunpowder, would still be explosive if isolated from vacuum. If you are interested in pyrotechnic compositions, please look up my previous answers to related questions. Also, the net contains enough information for a determined person to kill him/her self. Hope it helps. A.G.E.
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