What is PETN?
- It is a highly explosive organic compound belonging to the chemical family same as of nitroglycerin and nitrocellulose.
Origin of PETN
- PETN was first prepared and patented in 1894 by the explosives manufacturer Rheinisch-Westfalische Sprengstoff in Germany.
- It was introduced as a commercial explosive after World War I.
How does it operate?
- PETN does not go on its own and is stable, safe to handle
- The explosive needs a secondary detonating mechanism to produce heat or a shockwave, which can detonate the explosive.
- It is a sensitive compound and is easily detonated by an appropriate mechanical shock and is one of the most powerful explosive materials known.
- The deadly explosive is valued in both military and civilian applications for its shattering force and efficiency.
- Mixed with the extremely powerful compound RDX in an appropriate solvent, PETN forms a plastic explosive mixture known as Semtex.
- PETN is a valued weapon in terrorist bombings, because of:
- Its explosive power.
- Its ability to be moulded and fitted into unusual packages.
- It cannot be easily detected because of its colourless crystals.
- Difficulty of detecting the organic compound with X-ray and other conventional equipment.
- It can be kept hidden in a sealed container or an electrical equipment and can easily surpass security checks.
Section : Science & Tech