"bomb-grade hydrogen peroxide" - say wha?

See http://wikileaks.org/wiki/The_"dirty_bomb"_that_disappeared
Would-be American Nazi tried o dirty-bomb the inaguration, but got dead instead.

I know little about bombs, but H2O2? What does it do to what? Look out for bleached blondeS!

High grade hydrogen peroxide is a highly reactive oxidizer (the only two other substances I can think of off-hand that are more reactive is hydroxyl and fluorine) and has an NFPA 704 reactivity rating of 3 (capable of detonation or explosive decomposition from shock or combination with reducing species). HTP (High Test Peroxide) is frequently used as an oxidizer in bipropellant liquid fuel rockets and used to be used as a monopropellant in early rockets and torpedos. The stuff is pretty nasty to handle but vastly preferable to IRFNA (inhibited red fuming nitric acid) and other oxidizers as it doesn’t have any significant carcinogenic properties and a spill can be remediated by simple dilution with water.

Reactions with ground or powdered lithium, aluminum, magnesium, or iron oxide could be energetic or explosive. However, the most toxic material I see listed in the article is the beryllium, which when inhaled can cause berylliosis. This is not immediately life threatening, though. The amount of radiation that could be spread by a device made of the listed materials would be small to insignificant.


The bombs used in London 7/7 (and the failed 21/7 attempts) were constructed from chapatti flour and H[sub]2[/sub]O[sub]2[/sub].


To add what Stranger on a Train said, household peroxide is something like 5% diluted.

Hydrogen peroxide can be used as rocket fuel, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that it could be used in bombs.

Some further reading from a while back.

Hydrogen Peroxide has taken out at least one Russian sub.


“Reactions with ground or powdered lithium”

If I mix some household hydrogen peroxide with some lithium carbonate, what will happen?

I don’t have a chemistry text (and I’m too lazy to look up the data on line and work out the reaction kinetics for various concentrations) but the products will be H[sub]2[/sub]O + CO[sub]2[/sub] + LiO[sub]2[/sub]. Using a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide may give flame, but I doubt it would explode.


If you mix hydrogen peroxide with lithium carbonate the nucleating sites provided by the lithium carbonate may increase production of O[sub]2[/sub], but other than that I don’t think anything will happen. The lithium in lithium carbonate is already oxidized, so it has no real reducing potential. Maybe a slight decrease in pH will cause some CO[sub]2[/sub] to be released, but I can’t think of a mechanism for it. I would be curiuos to be proved wrong though.

I’m pretty sure that LiO[sub]2[/sub] is not a compound that exists since lithium simply doesn’t have enough electrons to give up for it. LiO exists, but it is water sensitive, so will quite quickly react with the water produced from peroxide. If you react metallic lithium with hydrogen peroxide, you will get LiOH and water in a fantastic way.

Lithium is right above sodium, so you will also get a reaction with just water. It is not a very spectacular reaction though. I have never seen lithium powder in anything but an oil based slurry. It might exist though.

At least he didn’t have dihydrogen monoxide, I heard that shit is deadly.

I notice that some of the wikipedia articles about the London bombers state that the explosive was acetone peroxide and others state that it was peroxide mixed with flour. What do they make chapatti flour out of exactly?


It’s just whole wheat flour.

It would seem that the explosive was acetone peroxide, with the flour used as a stabiliser to reduce the risk of premature detonation (in the same way Nobel stabilised nitroglycerin with diatomaceous earth). Of course, this then means that the explosive requires a significantly stronger primary detonator than pure TATP (tri-acetone peroxide), which will go off if you look at it wrong (or possibly right).


The last paragraph of Stranger’s post made me think that pure Na + undiluted H[sub]2[/sub]O[sub]2[/sub] would have some interesting effects.

If you mean H20, then yes, dropping a chunk of sodium in a bucket of water will give you a nice “burning lump of metal” effect, and a big enough explosion to make your ceiling wet if you use a large chunk (say, the size of a cue chalk).

Not water … I meant dropping a chunk of pure sodium into undiluted hydrogen peroxide.