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China. The strongest explosive CL-20 – a breakthrough in research, say scientists

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Chinese scientists claim to have made a breakthrough in their work on the use of one of the most powerful known explosives – CL-20. It is many times more powerful than currently used explosives, and using it on a large scale could make “Chinese weaponry much more powerful”, the researchers say.

A team of Chinese scientists led by an explosives specialist, Guo Changping, reported their achievement in the Chinese Journal of Explosives and Propellants, and on June 2, it was described by the Hong Kong South China Morning Post. Researchers claim that they have managed to make a breakthrough in the work on the possibility of using one of the most powerful explosives known – CL-20.

The strongest explosive

CL-20, also known as HNIW, is a chemical compound discovered in the late 1980s and often referred to as the most powerful non-atomic explosive. The energy released during its explosion is many times greater than in the case of other conventional explosives, such as TNT, pentrite or hexogen.

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However, the CL-20 has not yet gone into production because it turned out to be very sensitive to shocks and thus threatened with a spontaneous explosion. Chinese scientists now claim that they have managed to curb this problem. As reported, they were able to reduce the shock sensitivity of the CL-20 by a factor of five, thus taking a significant step towards the practical use of this material. This was achieved thanks to the change in the structure of CL-20 molecules and the so-called co-crystallization of this substance.

The resistance of the CL-20 modified in this way was measured by the traditional hammer test, which consisted in dropping a specific weight on a sample of an explosive. The higher the weight must be dropped from to initiate the explosion, the greater the shock resistance of the test material. Researchers reported that while the regular CL-20 exploded on impact with a weight falling from a height of 13 centimeters, its modified version only exploded at a height of 68 centimeters.

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CL-20 – a breakthrough in research

The South China Morning Post did not specify what level of resistance, as measured by the falling hammer test, is required for practical use of the CL-20. According to scientists quoted by the journal, however, this is “a breakthrough that could speed up the use of this explosive on a large scale, making Chinese weapons much more powerful in terms of destructive power.”

At the same time, the newspaper recalls that the costly research into harnessing the power of the CL-20 is believed to be closely linked to China’s nuclear program. According to Chinese media, the production of more powerful, conventional explosives is to make it possible to reduce the size of the nuclear arsenal. The use of the potential of materials such as CL-20 to power rocket engines is also being analysed, which theoretically could increase the range of, among others, rockets. Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

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South China Morning Post, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: DC Studio/Shutterstock

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