Explosions in Beirut, Oklahoma City attacks, AZF in France: what is ammonium nitrate, at the origin of all these human tragedies?

Sylvie Claire / August 6, 2020

 

2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse would be responsible for the explosion in the port of Beirut. But what do we really know about this highly explosive substance?

 

NH4NO3, ammonium nitrate, also sometimes called "ammonia nitrate" by manufacturers, is basically a fertilizer. It was also used as an explosive, mixed with fuel oil.

 

This substance, in the form of a white powder, is not initially flammable but can react at high temperatures (above 250 ° C).

 

The perpetrators of the Oklahoma City attack, which killed 168 people, and the Oslo bombing in 2011 both used this oxidizer.

 

An incident had already killed 561 people in 1921 at the BASF plant in Oppau, Germany. In Toulouse, on September 21, 2001, 31 people lost their lives in the explosion of the AZF factory, caused by 300 tons of ammonium nitrate

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