Questioning the 2015 Tianjin Explosion

Today is 9/11, so I figured it was a good time to ask this question - about what could be called “China’s 9/11”

An official report on the Tianjin explosion states that 800 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was part of the explosion. If we just take that as an example and compare it visually to similar chemical factory explosions with known quantities of chemicals, then it seems significantly off.

For example this explosion included 6 million pounds of “rocket fuel”

How does the explosive power of rocket fuel compare to ammonium nitrate? So in this example, it had about 3 times as much rocket fuel as Tainjin had ammonium nitrate. Anyone know the explosive detonation velocity of jet fuel? It would be useful to have some visual comparisons of known events - at least to be able to eyeball the claims in this report. But at cursory review, it doesn’t seem to add up.

But now watch this!

And apparently the death toll was highly underreported - some say on the order of many thousands…

Jet fuel is basically kerosene, which is not an explosive.

As for the rest of your “stuff,” I’m not really interested in helping you cook up a conspiracy theory.

You’re referring to ammonium perchlorate, and the associated video is of the PEPCON disaster. This involved about 9.9M pounds of AP which was consumed over the course of several detonation events, the largest of which was estimated as being equivalent to 1 kiloton.

It doesn’t have one, at least not at ambient conditions. You’d have to start with warm air and warm kerosone, >100F, and then atomize the kerosene to form a flammable mixture (in fact you’d need to be quite a bit past 100F, since the vaporization of the kerosone would lower temps). And once you’ve formed your mixture, then you’d have to compress it, as you would in a piston engine. Either you compress it enough to cause a high enough pressure/temperature to directly trigger detonation, or you’d ignite one part of it (as with a spark plug) and let ordinary combustion increase the pressure in the unburned part of the mixture to the point that detonation occurs.

A finely atomized cloud of kerosene at ambient pressure/temperature may ignite in a spectacular fireball, but this will be an ordinary deflagration, not a detonation.

Which do you think is larger, and what exactly makes you think that?

I don’t understand the question, but I think jz78817 is on the right path. Here’s a photo of the explosion aftermath, courtesy of the South China Morning Post:

Compare with photos from other AN explosions, such as Texas City 1947 ( is an annotated photo.) which was ~2200 tons of AN on the Grandcampand another 960 tons on the High Flyer, Oppau 1921 ( which was some portion of a ~50/50 mixture of Ammonium Nitrate and Ammonium Sulfate. The wiki cites an estimate that perhaps only 10% of the 4500 ton of material in the silo detonated.

The damage doesn’t seem out of line for 800 tons of AN going off.

The West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion, which was another that I thought of, only involved enough AN to equal 7.5 to 10 tons TNT equivalent. Which was bad enough, but nothing compared to the kiloton TNT plus yields from the above two explosions.

I know nothing about the explosion and have no basis to choose between the official figure of 173 dead and the speculations of “many thousands.” However if an over/under were offered on a 200 count, I know which way I’d bet.

Welcome to the SDMB, human_extinction. For future reference know that had your intent been to elicit support for an hypothesis of cover-up, you should have linked to a site espousing cover-up and said that you disagreed! :rolleyes: