Accession Number:

ADP004872

Title:

Complexities of Lead Azide

Descriptive Note:

Corporate Author:

SAVANNA ARMY DEPOT ACTIVITY IL

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

1984-08-01

Pagination or Media Count:

7.0

Abstract:

Lead azide, PbN32, is an explosive salt of hydrazole acid, HN3, having a molecular weight of 291.258. It is very sensitive to impact, friction, heat, and electrical discharge. Its soluability is less than 1 in cold water and nearly zero in ammonium hydroxide solution, ether, acetone, or ethanol, but it is quite soluable in heated, strongly acid or strongly alkaline solutions. When dry, it does not corrode most metals, however, in the presence of moisture, gold, silver, copper, mercury, tin, and zinc, all form extremely sensitive and dangerous azides. Pure lead azide occurs as colorless needle-like crystals. Breaking these crystals is believed to initiate detonation. Military-use lead azide is white to tan with crystals less than 0.1mm long to minimize sensitivity. It is approximately 92 pure, having about 4 lead hydroxide a manufacturing by-product, 3 dextrin a binder, and 1 trace impurities. Vietnam-era jungle warfare fostered the development of munitions using relatively enormous quantities of load azide. Their sensitivity to detonation caused a reluctance among many users to deploy them, resulting in a stockpile of both munitions and bulk lead azide. The winding down of hostilities left a vast supply and an extremely small demand. Mounting environmental regulations limited most open-air detonations to emergency destruction of immediately hazardous munitions. All munitions were eventually destroyed, leaving the stockpile of bulk lead azide in deteriorating 55-gallon drums.

Subject Categories:

  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Ammunition and Explosives

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE