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Comments on TNT Equivalence

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The term TNT Equivalence is used throughout the explosives and related industries to compare the effects of the output of a given explosive to that of TNT. This is done for technical design reasons in scaling calculations such as for the prediction of blast waves, craters, and structural response, and is also used as a basis for government regulations controlling the shipping, handling and storage of explosive materials, as well as for the siting and design of explosive facilities. TNT equivalence is determined experimentally by several different types of tests, the most common of which include plate dent, ballistic mortar, trauzl, sand crush, and air blast. All of these tests do not necessarily measure the same output property of the sample explosive. As examples of this, some tests depend simply upon the CJ pressure, some depend upon the PV work in the CJ zone and in the Taylor expansion wave behind the CJ plane, some are functions of the total work which includes that from secondary combustion in the air mixing region of the fireball and are acutely effected by the shape of the pressure-time profile of the wave. Some of the tests incorporate systematic errors which are not readily apparent, and which have a profound effect upon skewing the resultant data. Further, some of the tests produce different TNT Equivalents for the same explosive which are a function of the conditions at which the test is run. This paper describes the various tests used, discusses the results of each test and makes detailed commentary on what the test is actually measuring, how the results may be interpreted, and if and how these results can be predicted by first principals based calculations. Extensive data bases are referred to throughout the paper and used in examples for each point in the commentaries. This paper concludes with recommendations of where TNT Equivalents might be dropped in favor of actual performance data, and will provide cautions where use of TNT Equivalents may

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  • Ammunition and Explosives

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