Improvised Explosives: X-Ray Detection & Eutectics of Erythritol Tetranitrate

Austin Collins Brown, University of Rhode Island


With the recent availability of erythritol as an artificial sweetener, the synthesis of erythritol tetranitrate (ETN) has become economically feasible. This paper examines eutectics of ETN, to see if it can be a useful component in melt-casted explosive formulations. To this end we report several novel ETN-energetic eutectics, correct ratios and melt-temperature for a previously reported eutectic, and examine a new eutectic composed of insensitive explosives. Another nitrate ester, pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), finds many uses in the energetic materials community. Since ETN can now be readily synthesized, its complete characterization, especially its stability, is of great interest. This work examines the thermal decomposition of ETN, and compares it to PETN, both through experimental methods and computational theory. In addition to kinetic parameters, decomposition products were examined to elucidate its decomposition pathway. In addition to our work with ETN, a new approach to develop non-hazardous materials which, to x-ray detection instrumentation, simulated explosives and other related threats is presented in this work. Rather than trying to make universal simulants, which often do not provide adequate matches across multiple instruments, this method focuses on making more accurate simulants specific to the instruments they are designed on. These simulants could be used in locations where the actual threats cannot, e.g. vendors’ facilities, airports, and personnel training.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Austin Collins Brown, "Improvised Explosives: X-Ray Detection & Eutectics of Erythritol Tetranitrate" (2017). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI10272306.