Two compounds, 2,4-dinitroanisole (DNAN) and 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one (NTO) are the main ingredients in a suite of explosive formulations that are being, or soon will be, fielded at military training ranges. We aim to understand the dissolution characteristics of DNAN and NTO and three insensitive muntions (IM) formulations that contain them. This information is needed to accurately predict the environmental fate of IM constituents, some of which may be toxic to people and the environment. We used Raman spectroscopy to identify the different constituents in the IM formulations and micro computed tomography to image their three-dimensional structure. These are the first three-dimensional images of detonated explosive particles.
For multi-component explosives the solubility of the individual constituents and the fraction of each constituent wetted by water controls the dissolution. We found that the order of magnitude differences in solubility amongst the constituents of these IM formulations quickly produced hole-riddled particles when these were exposed to water. Micro-computed tomography showed that particles resulting from field detonations were fractured, producing conduits by which water could access the interior of the particle. We think that micro-computed tomography can also be used to determine the initial composition of IM particles and to track how their compositions change as the particles dissolve. This information is critical to quantifying dissolution and developing physically based dissolution models.