Reducing the Explosion Potential of Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer - AG Scope

  • Schwab, Gregory (PI)
  • Grove, John (CoI)
  • Taulbee, Darrell (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


The destructive power of ammonium nitrate (AN) has been graphically demonstrated in a number of malicious attacks from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City to the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. AN mixed with fuel oil creates a powerful explosive, ANFO, which is often a weapon of choice for acts of terrorism due to its relatively low cost, ready availability, ease of assembly, and magnitude of destructive force unleashed upon detonation. Despite its critical and beneficial role in agriculture, AN has become a vehicle for spreading chaos and an ominous threat to society. This document describes a proposed continuation of research that was initiated in an NIHSfunded project titled Reduction of the Explosion Potential of Ammonium Nitrate by Coating with Low-Cost, Coal Combustion By-Products (2006-07). The initial project focused on an evaluation of CCB coatings as blast mitigants with only a cursory look at the impact such material might have on agriculture or the environment. Results from the prior study demonstrated that AN fertilizer coated with anyone ofthree coal combustion byproducts (CCBs) at 15% or greater by weight was sufficient to stop the propagation of an AN explosion. In this proposal, we intend to extend and broaden that research by focusing on a number of issues that must be addressed before this technology can be considered suitable for agricultural use. Accordingly, the major objectives of the proposed project will be to 1) more fully evaluate the impact of CCB-coated AN fertilizer on agricultural use (plant growth, elemental uptake, application in existing farm equipment), 2) identify potentially harmful environment effects (soil migration and leaching of hazardous elements), 3) obtain independent verification of the reduction in explosivity of coated AN that was observed in the prior study, 4) demonstrate the industrial-scale viability of the proposed CCB/AN coating process, and 5) prepare cost estimates for the commercial production of CCB-coated AN. Assuming favorable findings, it is our overall objective that at the conclusion of this project, no serious technical issues or questions will remain that would impede the commercial implementation of the proposed technology. 4
Effective start/end date3/4/0810/3/10


  • National Institute for Hometown Security


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