This could be a problem

The IEDs in New York and New Jersey may have been made with Tannerite. Forbes has an article about it:

First, to be clear, the name Tannerite is appearing in news stories attributed to unnamed law enforcement sources. Tannerite residue was reportedly found on the two bombs discovered in New York over the weekend. Other bombs linked to the suspect, Ahmad Rahami, who is now in custody, may have used different explosives. These reports may be wrong in part or whole.

The company that makes Tannerite is skeptical. Steve Yerger, an investigator for the company, says he has not been able to confirm with the FBI or other law enforcement agencies that Tannerite was in fact found in the New York bombs. What’s more, he says he doesn’t know how it could have been used.

In the company’s tests, says Yerger, Tannerite can only be detonated by the impact of a high-velocity bullet. A burning fuse, an electrical current, a hammer blow; none of those will work, according to him. There have been no reports that a gunshot was used to trigger the bomb that exploded in New York on Saturday.

I don’t believe that Tannerite can only be detonated by bullets. I would bet that a blasting cap of the correct type would detonate it just fine. Of course blasting caps are not easy to come by. But, still, I think an improvised blasting cap could be constructed that would do it.

There are a lot of people using Tannerite for recreational shooting. Certain people, mostly those afraid that someone, somewhere is having fun, have been trying to ban or put severe restrictions on Tannerite. But, prior to this, to the best of my knowledge Tannerite hasn’t been intentionally used to harm people or the property of others. People have done a lot of stupid stuff with it, but mostly they have hurt themselves and made messes they couldn’t clean up. If it was used in a terrorist attack, it could be a big deal.

But, of course, Amazon and the black market can easily supply what the free market can’t.


Those who need to know already know what this means:

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5 thoughts on “This could be a problem

  1. Virtually impossible for it to have been Tannerite.
    HOWEVER…..there are a lot of people in .gov who
    don’t think we should be allowed to play with Tannerite.

    SO…..LIE about it being used in such a way and you can
    easily get the idiots in office to ban it. NEVER underestimate
    the evil of petty people in power.

  2. On bullets vs. primer caps: I would be skeptical too. From what I’ve read (which admittedly is not a whole lot, and mostly fairly old) the reverse tends to be true — a number of high explosives are essentially impossible to detonate by impact, but a sufficiently larger primer will do the job. “Sufficiently large” is relevant; for example, I remember a listing of primer sizes for various explosive types. Ammonium nitrate was listed as wanting a #10 (largest) cap.

    As for improvising them, sure, that’s easy enough. A basic primer is just a quantity of a suitable sensitive explosive, similar to what’s found in cartridges. I don’t know about the current standard materials, but the old classic — mercury fulminate — is trivial to make, requiring no exotic ingredients or complicated procedures.

    • A 40 lb cratering charge used by the military is a cylinder with 15 lb of AN on each end, and ten pounds of TNT in the middle. You set it off (usually) by putting a blasting cap into a 1 lb stick of TNT and tie it to the side next to the interior TNT (or use a cap and a chunk of C4 the same way). So, you use a small explosive to set off a ~1lb booster charge to set off the main charge.

      Yes, the “sufficiently large” caveat is important.

  3. I’m going to be pretty far outside my experience here, but when I first read that, I was strong suspicious. To my knowledge, Tannerite is a binary of aluminum oxide and ammonium nitrate? If it was built in an aluminum pressure canner and used ammonium nitrate in any amount, then it would be technically correct to say that residue contains the same chemical compounds as Tannerite. It doesn’t have to be TRUE to be USEFUL.

  4. Pingback: SayUncle » Tannerite in weekend bombings?

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