Why not only electrostatic discharge but even a minimum charge on the surface of highly sensitive explosives can catalyze their gradual exothermic decomposition and how a cloud of unipolar charged explosive particles turns into ball lightning

O. Meshcheryakov
Wing Ltd Company, UA

Keywords: charge-catalyzed surface reactions, explosives, charged nanoparticles, aerosol clouds, ball lightning phenomenon


Even a single excess electron or ion migrating on the surface of sensitive explosives can catalyze their gradual exothermic decomposition. Mechanisms underlying such a charge-induced gradual thermal decomposition of highly sensitive explosives can be different. If sensitive explosive is a polar liquid, intense charge-dipole attraction between excess surface charges and surrounding explosive molecules can result in repetitive attempts of solvation of these charges by polar explosive molecules. Every attempt of such uncompleted nonequilibrium solvation causes local exothermic decomposition of thermolabile polar molecules accompanied by further thermal jumping unsolvated excess charges to new surface sites. Thus, ionized mobile hot spots emerge on charged explosive surface. Stochastic migration of ionized hot spots on explosive surface causes gradual exothermic decomposition of the whole mass of the polar explosive. The similar gradual charge-catalyzed exothermic decomposition of both polar and nonpolar highly sensitive explosives can be also caused by intense charge-dipole attacks of surrounding water vapor molecules electrostatically attracted from ambient humid air and strongly accelerated towards charged sites on explosive surfaces. Emission of thermoelectrons, photons and heat from ionized hot spots randomly migrating on charged surface of highly sensitive explosive aerosol nanoparticles converts such particles into the form of short-circuited thermionic nanobatteries.