Useful Explosive & Blasting Agent for modern day Blasting

Author: Partha Das Sharma, B.Tech (Hons.) in Mining Engineering, E.mail:, Blog/Website:

Needed for an explosion..



Ammonium Nitrate (AN)
An is a weak explosive base, its explosion temperature being 1130 degree centigrade. 2NH4NO3 → 2N2 + 4H2O + O2 + 378 cal/g. It being oxygen positive, is often used as oxygen supplier in addition to being an explosive base. It forms the explosive base in ANFO (Ammonium Nitrate – Fuel Oil) explosives, which are now widely used.

Ammonium Nitrate / Fuel Oil Ammonium Nitrate Production Reaction of anhydrous ammonia gas and concentrated nitric acid. After the reaction the AN solution is about 83% concentration. Excess water is evaporated off to leave an AN concentration of 95 to 99.9%.

When the prill is dried the water is removed and it leaves voids in the prill.AN Production cont’d AN Solution is turned into 5 . PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. This is where the diesel fuel goes when added to the prill.wordpress. A small percentage of water is left in the solution when the prill is formed.

AN Prill manufacturing Schematic VAPOURISED AMMONIA AQUOUS NITRIC ACID Evaporator Industrial or Blasting grade 83% .wordpress.86% AN solution Prilling Tower Prilled at 96 97% Melt Dryer Pre-Dryer Cooler To Storage Coater Screen Over-size & Fines to recycle PARTHA DAS SHARMA 6 .

The AN solidifies while falling. Prilling tower conditions must be such that will produce a "porous" prill that will absorb the proper amount of fuel oil (6 percent by weight). taking on an approximately spherical shape of relatively uniform size.AN Prill manufacturing Blasting grade AN prills are made by spraying molten AN into a prilling 7 .wordpress. Droplets fall under carefully controlled cooling conditions. High density prills will not properly absorb the fuel oil and blasting performance will suffer PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.

Oil absorbency. PARTHA DAS SHARMA 8 . Low particle density. Good friability and Non-caking consistency.Properties of explosive-grade prill Properties important for explosive-grade AN prills are: Low clay content. Free-flow sizing.wordpress. Low moisture content.

wordpress.Temperature Cycling of AN AN responds to temperature changes by changing its crystalline 9 . product stored over four seasons or in tropical atmosphere undergo some degree of cycling. The phenomenon is called Cycling. Therefore. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. The two temperature at which cycling occur under normal condition are 0 and 32 degree C.

When AN prill has been exposed to both humidity and temperature. crystalline structure changes. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. blasting grade prills have some protective coating which offers some amount of water 10 .Thermal and Moisture stability of AN In addition. this is the first cycle. AN is hygroscopic.wordpress. can attract moisture from atmosphere and slowly dissolve itself. For this reason.

moisture deteriorates prills. the waterproof coating is broken.wordpress. thereby deterioration is checked.Thermal and Moisture stability of AN cont’d… After AN has undergone more than one cycle. Some AN prill manufacturers claim to have technology which gives Thermal stability to the prills. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. 11 . performance of cycled AN prills will not be consistent.

total breakdown of product due to phase transition because of change in storage temperature. to prevent caking or in more extreme conditions. thermal stability and 12 . PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. high humidity. AN must be protected in storage from rain. Caking of AN is prevented by coating the finished product with inert dust and / or a surfactant and by adding an inorganic salt or nucleating agent (a stabilizer to prevent the prills breakdown – Nucleating agents are fine particulate material which when added to AN melt provide nuclei for crystal growth and prevent super-cooling which leads to growth of a small number of large crystals) to the melt prior to prilling.wordpress.Thermal and Moisture stability of AN cont’d…(Storage) The major problem associated with the storage of Ammonium Nitrate (AN) are hygroscopicity.

wordpress. which enables it to readily absorb and hold correct amount of fuel oil (about 13 . PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. improving detonability of the ANFO mixture.7%). Good blasting-grade prill is porous. Dense prills often are not detonable. perform at very low rate of detonation. The ability of oiled prill to be detonated depends on the density of prills.General specifications of explosivegrade AN For good blasting-grade prills size distribution roughly between 6 and 20 mesh. or if initiated. Oil is distributed throughout the prill particle.

AN as blasting agent and AN based explosives PARTHA DAS SHARMA 14 .wordpress.

PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.6% Fuel 3NH4NO3 + CH2 → 3N2 + 7H2O + CO2. inefficient reaction during detonation. Drastic loss of ENERGY.90 g/cc Oxygen Balanced @ 94.ANFO Characteristics ANFO Density ranges from 15 .0. Over fueling leads to: Loss of Energy.4% AN / 5. Under fueling leads to: Greater sensitivity. Orange smoke.wordpress.82 .

Effects of Fueling on Fume Production PARTHA DAS SHARMA 16 .

Effects of Fueling on Fume Production PARTHA DAS SHARMA 17 .

Effects of Fueling on Energy Output PARTHA DAS SHARMA 18 .

com/ 19 .wordpress.ANFO and VOD ANFO VOD increases as the borehole diameter increases. Borehole Velocity of ANFO 16000 14000 12000 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 V D(ft/sec) O Borehole Diameter (inches) PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.

Under this it will not detonate.0 – 2. It requires a primer assembly to be initiated.wordpress.5 inches. ANFO is considered a ‘Blasting Agent” This means it cannot be detonated with a #8 strength detonator when unconfined.ANFO Characteristics The critical diameter of poured ANFO is about 2. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. If it is loaded pneumatically the critical diameter can be increased to 20 .0 inch.

PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.wordpress. This is a benefit to blasting due to the rapid expansion of the gases out into the formation creating a “heave” effect.ANFO Characteristics When ANFO detonates it does so 21 . This produces excess gases from the reaction. This heave effect allows for easier digging and better throw. 22 . Difference in properties of Fertilizer and Blasting prill: PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. Blasting prill considered a porous prill which better distributes the fuel oil and results in much better performance on blasting job.Fertilizer grade VS Explosive grade AN prills for ANFO Often Fertilizer grade AN prills are used as ANFO for blasting purpose.

ANFO can fail to detonate if water has damaged enough ANFO in the hole. ANFO is not waterproof or even 23 . If the ANFO shoots “low order”.wordpress. ANFO can deflagrate if a significant amount of water has damaged the ANFO. it shoots inefficiently and produces excess gases.. Orange fumes! PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.ANFO Characteristics cont’d.

dispersed as microscopically fine droplets. of microscopic size. The internal phase is composed of solution of oxidiser salts e. Ammonium Nitrate 24 . PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. A mixture of two or more immiscible liquids in which one is present as droplets. is stabilized against liquid separation by an emulsifying agent. distributed throughout the other.wordpress.Emulsion Water solutions of oxidizers in an oil medium (water-inoil emulsion). which are surrounded by a continuous fuel phase. stabilized with the help of emulsifier. thus formed. emulsion explosives are the intimate and homogenous mixture of two immiscible oxidiser and fuels phases. The emulsion.g. In other words.

Explosive Emulsion Anatomy Oil continuous. “external” phase (green) – 5 to 9% Mineral oils Diesel fuels Recycled oils Vegetable oils Aqueous salt discontinuous. “internal” phase (blue) – 91 to 95% Ammonium Nitrate Calcium Nitrate Sodium Nitrate Perchlorates PARTHA DAS SHARMA 25 .

wordpress.Explosive Emulsion Anatomy cont’d. The gassing agent can either be ultra fine air bubbles or artificial bubbles from glass. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. is then dispersed thorough out the basic emulsion matrix. A bulking/gassing agent – for density control. The bulking agents determine and control the sensitivity of emulsion products – whether emulsion is cap sensitive or booster sensitive.. Since its micro cell is coated with an oily exterior. the emulsion has excellent water resistance 26 . resin or plastic.

The ultra fine air bubbles or artificial air bubbles used as gassing agent acts as sensitiser. Viscosity of emulsion can be varied by changing type of fuel oil used. PARTHA DAS SHARMA 27 . Therefore emulsion explosives can be made in cartridge form of various sizes or can be used as bulk explosive in opencast as well as in underground workings.Characteristics of Explosive Emulsion The output energy of emulsion is very near to the calculated energy.

The resulting emulsion can serve as detonable matrices to carry solid fuels such as Aluminium powder.Initiation of Explosive Emulsion When initiating shock wave applies to emulsion explosives the ultra fine air bubbles gets heated first and act as ‘Hotspots’ in emulsion having very high temperature (about 1500 -1800 °C).wordpress. At this high temperature the explosive reaction takes place. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. prilled AN 28 .

Properties of Explosive Emulsion Emulsion explosives are much better water resistant than water gel slurry or ANFO. Since Emulsion explosives are well oxygen-balanced. water phase is enveloped within oil phase (Water – in – Oil emulsion). High VOD can be obtained. use and store as it is relatively insensitivity to detonation by friction. VOD depend upon the oxidixer droplet size (0. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.wordpress. Emulsion explosives are much safer to handle.e. impact or fire. as oil phase is at outside 29 . Critical diameter of emulsion explosives again depends upon droplet size and sensitizer used. Therefore. Therefore.. toughest rock conditions can be tackled very effectively and efficiently without compromising safety standard. it is much safer than NG based explosives and enhances safety standard of the workings. Because of the intimate mixture between oxidizer and fuel. generates a minimum of noxious fumes and far less smoke. emulsion explosives have higher energy than water gel slurries or ANFO and it matches with energy level of Nitroglycerine based explosives.2 to 10 micron).

com/ 30 .20 g/cc.wordpress. VOD increases with Borehole Diameter. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. Loaded in diameters between 1and 12 inches. Can be classified as Oxidizer of Blasting Agent. Can be dead pressed when sensitized with microballoons.Bulk Emulsion Characteristics Typical density of a sensitized emulsion runs about 1. Sensitivity/density can vary with the addition of microballoons or chemical gassification.

com/ 31 .Heavy ANFO Blends Blends of ANFO and Emulsion This is an attempt to increase bulk density of ANFO and making the mixture a ‘repumpable’ consistency.wordpress. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.

hence. increase energy in the borehole Provide water resistance to ANFO Economic (price range between that of ANFO and emulsion) Reduce mining costs PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.Heavy ANFO Blends Why blends are used? Increase the density of 32 .

More production per hole. Less shots per cut.wordpress. Pattern expansions. Drill cost savings potential. Water resistance for ANFO in wet formations. Maximize energy in 33 . PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.Heavy ANFO Blend Benefits Longer sleep times with heavy blends.

or a combination of the two.Heavy ANFO Blend Trucks Bulk trucks for loading of Heavy ANFOs are designed to blend components prior to loading and provide loading of emulsion or ANFO alone. in varying proportions. PARTHA DAS SHARMA 34 .wordpress.

Heavy ANFO Blend Densities PARTHA DAS SHARMA 35 .wordpress.

It appears that in hard-rock performance will suffer when there is more than 30 percent of un-sensitized emulsion in the 36 . The degree of non-ideal detonation introduced by the lack of sensitization means that a greater degree of the total energy is released as heave energy.wordpress. In softer formations greater percentages of un-sensitized product can usually be employed because suitable fragmentation of the rock depends to a greater degree on heave energy. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.Heavy ANFO Blend Experiment has shown that the performance of Heavy ANFO becomes sluggish as more emulsion is added unless the emulsion has been sensitized by gassing or microballoons.

Bulk Heavy ANFO explosives A waterproof product is typically produced at 50 percent emulsion 37 . However. to obtain a product that can be pumped reliably it is common to use a waterproof Heavy ANFO containing 60 to 70 percent emulsion. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. or performance will suffer. Such products should always be made with a sensitized emulsion.wordpress.

Mixing does not occur if the loading is carefully 38 . The product is pumped through the hose. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. The water rises on top of the advancing column of more dense explosive. When waterproof heavy ANFO blend is loaded into wet holes it should always be loaded from the bottom up. but is always kept in the explosive.Bulk Heavy ANFO cont’d.. This is achieved using a bulk truck with a hose that can extend to the bottom of the blasthole. The hose is retracted as loading proceeds.wordpress.

. and prill goes into the 39 . PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. Since the gap sensitivity of these products is not large this may lead to the failure of a portion of the explosive column to detonate unless it happens to be primed on both sides of the water gap.Bulk Heavy ANFO cont’d. Bridging may occur with portions of the explosive column separated by a water gap. Water is mixed into the explosive column. When Heavy ANFO is augured into wet holes it spatters on impact with the water.

com/ 40 .Specifications of the ANFO and the Heavy ANFO Blend PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting.wordpress.

Germany (ISBN 978-3-8383-5522-1) 41 . Mah.environmentengineering. few years ago. India (1979) and was associated with number of mining and explosives organizations.) in Mining Engineering from IIT. BALCO.wordpress. Author’s Published Book: "Acid mine drainage (AMD) and It's control". Anil Chemicals. Kharagpur. author has following useful blogs on Web: http://saferenvironment. PARTHA DAS SHARMA http://miningandblasting. sharmapd1@rediffmail. Blast induced Ground Vibration and its control. namely www. Lambert Academic Author can be contacted at E-mail: Author has presented number of technical papers in many of the seminars and journals on varied topics like Overburden side casting by blasting.blogspot.Tech – Hons. Signature hole blast analysis with Electronic detonator http://www. before joining the present organization. Solar Group of Explosives Industries at Nagpur (India). ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Disclaimer: Views expressed in the article are solely of the author’s own and do not necessarily belong to any of the Company. Drilling & blasting in metalliferous underground mines. Century Cement. Controlled blasting techniques. Explosives etc. Hot hole blasting. Development of Non-primary explosive detonators (NPED). Currently. VBC Industries..Author’s Bio-data Author’s Bio-data: Partha Das Sharma is Graduate (B.coalandfuel. Tunnel blasting.wordpress.

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