RDX solubility in TNT at high temperatures


The solubility of RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-tri-nitro-1,3,5-triazine) in TNT (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene) at elevated temperatures is required to accurately predict the response of Comp-B3 (60:40 RDX:TNT) during accidents involving fire. As the temperature increases, the TNT component melts, the RDX partially dissolves in the liquid TNT, and the remaining RDX melts (203 \(^\circ\)C) as the Comp-B thermally ignites. In the current work, we used a differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) to estimate the solubility of RDX in TNT at the melting point of RDX. Most DSC measurements of Comp-B3 do not show an RDX melt endotherm. The absence of an endotherm associated with the RDX melt has been interpreted as RDX being completely dissolved in TNT before reaching the melting point. We have observed that the endotherm is not absent, but is masked by exothermic reactions occurring at these elevated temperatures. We have inhibited the exothermic reactions by venting our DSC samples and measuring the RDX melt endotherm in our Comp-B3 samples at about 203 \(^\circ\)C. Using the measured heat flow associated with the RDX melt and the latent melting enthalpy of RDX, we have approximated the solubility of RDX in TNT to be roughly 50–100 \(\hbox {g}_{\mathrm{RDX}}\) per 100 \(\hbox {g}_{\mathrm{TNT}}\). The broad range is based on corrections for exothermic reactions occurring as the RDX melts.

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Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory managed and operated by National Technology & Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-NA0003525. The authors acknowledge partial support of this work from the Joint DoD/DOE Munitions Program. This paper describes objective technical results and analysis. Any subjective views or opinions that might be expressed in the paper do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Energy or the United States Government. We would like to thank Bob Patton for running the PDSC experiments, Shane Snedigar for running the SITI experiments, Marcia Cooper and Stephanie Coronel for internal review, and Sophia Lefantzi, Leanna Minier, and Clint Hall for management support. We also would like to thank Matt McClelland for providing the DSC data used in Fig. 4d.

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Correspondence to Michael L. Hobbs.

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Hobbs, M.L., Kaneshige, M.J., Todd, S.N. et al. RDX solubility in TNT at high temperatures. J Therm Anal Calorim 142, 861–869 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10973-019-08924-z

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  • TG/DSC
  • RDX
  • TNT
  • Comp-B3
  • Solubility
  • Cookoff