What is Ammonium Nitrate and how it causes a massive explosion in Beirut?

A massive explosion in Beirut, On August 4 Beirut port was caught on an explosion. Cause for the explosion is Ammonium Nitrate which mostly used by the fertilizer manufactures. The explosion is one of the largest ammonium nitrate explosions in the world.

What is Ammonium Nitrate?


Ammonium Nitrate is a chemical compound once obtained in the earth but now it is not naturally obtained in the earth’s surface, it is a man-made compound.

Ammonium Nitrate (NH4NO3) is a mixture of ammonia salt and Nitric acid. It is the most common nitrogenous component of artificial fertilizers. Ammonium nitrate is manufactured as little beads which look like salt, it is very cheap to buy and safe to handle but storing ammonium nitrate is problem.

Generally, Ammonium Nitrate is not a self-explosive material but Ammonium nitrate can be explosive if any fire has occurred near to it. While explosion Ammonium nitrate decomposes on its own and creates gases which include nitrogen oxides and water vapour, Nitrogen oxide is a red, bad-smelling gas. If the Ammonium nitrate is not properly stored then the chances of caught in the explosion is increased but if it properly stored then it is not an explosive material.

In some cases, Ammonium nitrate is also used on explosive materials also. Mostly in the mining explosives, where it is mixed with oil and other fuels.

How ammonium nitrate causes a massive explosion in Beirut?

Beirut is the capital of Lebanon. It is located in western Asia. On August 4, Beirut port caught on a massive explosion which causes the death of approximately 200 people and 5000 people injured according to the Lebanon government around 3 lakhs people are homeless due to this massive explosion in Beirut.

The reason for the explosion is 2700 tonnes of Ammonium nitrate which stored in the Beirut port, which is stored at the port since 2014.

According to initial thoughts, the storage of ammonium nitrate for long period of time and lack of proper maintenance cause the massive explosion in Beirut.

What happens if an explosion like in Beirut happens in India?

Around 740 tonnes of Ammonium nitrate is stored 20 km away from Chennai, which is stored in Chennai since 2015. A large amount of Ammonium nitrate on Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad put authorities in high alert. In Visakhapatnam, Shravan Shipping Services Pvt currently has 18,500 metric tons of ammonium nitrate in store.

India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) attempts to estimate the damage of destruction if a blast like Beirut happens in India’s biggest cities.

In the past 30 years, the population on the major cities increased very largely that if any explosion like Beirut occurred even near to the metropolitan cities will cause huge damage.

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