How Does Dynamite Work?

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Dynamite was first developed in 1866 by Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prize and an inventor who held 355 patents. The invention of dynamite was significant because it is an explosive that can be transported safely and detonated at will. The explosive properties of dynamite are contained in its component nitroglycerine, which is formed from glycerol and a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids. Dynamite is made by mixing this liquid with silica to form a paste, making it safer to transport.

Explosive Reaction

  • The reaction to create nitroglycerine is extremely exothermic, meaning it gives off a great deal of heat as it occurs. When glycerol is mixed with nitric and sulfuric acids to form nitroglycerine, it explodes violently unless the mixture is cooled during synthesis. The liquid resulting from this process is extremely sensitive to heat and shock and will explode if exposed to fire. Alfred Nobel's dynamite allows nitroglycerine to be transported and handled without risking an unpredictable detonation. Through the manufacturing of dynamite, Nobel amassed a large fortune that would eventually fund the Nobel Foundation, which awards the Nobel Prizes.

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