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Photochemical Degradation of Composition B and Its Components
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER VICKSBURG MS ENVIRONMENTAL LAB
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Products of photodecomposition of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene TNT have been observed as a coating on TNT particles and as a fine powdered residue surrounding TNT particles on ranges receiving limited rainfall. The significance of photolysis of explosive formulations on training ranges is unknown. Therefore, photolysis of a common explosive formulation, Composition B, and its components in a soil matrix were evaluated. Objectives included determination of photolysis rates, effects of light intensity and duration, effects of moisture on photolysis, and identification of photolysis products. Irradiations were performed in laboratory microcosms under controlled conditions. Solutions, solids, and both solutions and solid explosives spiked into soils were irradiated. Two approaches were used to characterize products liquid chromatographymass spectrometry and a combination of solid and liquid state 13C and 15N nuclear magnetic resonance NMR, and liquid state 1H NMR. Irradiation of TNT in the aqueous phase generated dramatically more photolysis products than were previously reported. The most prominent nitrogen-containing functional groups, exclusive of unreacted nitro groups, were azoxy, amide, nitrile, and azo nitrogens. Results suggest that Composition B photolysis, particularly the TNT component, generates a dynamic mixture of products and ions beginning on the solid surfaces before dissolution, and increasing once in solution phase.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE