The most important use for ammonium nitrate is as a fertilizer, but it can also be used as an explosive. An explosion results when ammonium nitrate is brought into contact with heat, a source of ignition such as a spark, or, with reducing agents. Unfortunately, explosions of ammonium nitrate are not rare. A massive explosion of ammonium nitrate on 17th April 2013 resulted in the death of 15 people, and the destruction of the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in Texas, USA.
Ammonium nitrate can be produced in commercial quantities by reacting ammonia gas with nitric acid.
Naming Ionic Compounds
Writing Ionic Formula
Molar Gas Volumes
Suggested Study Questions:
- Write the chemical formula for ammonium nitrate
- Explain why this compound is considered to be an ionic compound.
- Write a word equation for the reaction between ammonia gas and nitric acid to produce ammonium nitrate
- Write a balanced chemical equation for the reaction in question 3.
- Ammonium nitrate decomposes in to N2O and H2O when heated. Write a balanced chemical equation for this reaction.
- Calculate the molar mass of ammonium nitrate.
- Calculate the moles of ammonium nitrate present in the truck.
- Assuming that the decomposition of ammonium nitrate results only in gaseous products, what volume of gas at 25oC and 100 kPa would be released by ammonium nitrate in the truck?
- Assume the truck could carry a load with a volume of 30,000 L. Can you suggest a reason why rapidly decomposing ammonium nitrate could explode, destroying the truck, the bridge and the road?