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The Explosive Nature of Nanothermite


The Explosive Nature of Nanothermite

Kevin R. Ryan

In the last few years, a series of peer-reviewed scientific articles has been published that establish the presence of thermitic materials at the World Trade Center (WTC). [A-D]

Although we know that nanothermite has been found in the WTC dust, we do not know what purpose it served in the deceptive demolition of the WTC buildings. It could be that the nanothermite was used simply to drive fires in the impact zones and elevator areas – fires which would otherwise have gone out too early or not been present at all – and thereby create the deception that jet fuel-induced fires could wreak the havoc seen.

Nanothermite might also have been used to produce the explosions necessary to destroy the structural integrity of the buildings.

Nanothermite, also called superthermite, is the common name for a subset of metastable intermolecular composites (MICs) characterized by a highly exothermic reaction after ignition. Nanothermites contain an oxidizer and a reducing agent that are intimately mixed on the nanometer scale. Such nano-energetics are produced for various applications including propellants, explosives, and pyrotechnics.

There are various ways to make nanothermites. They can be made as solid mixtures of aluminum and metal oxides which are typically produced using techniques like dynamic vapor phase condensation and arrested reactive milling. These mixtures are much like typical thermite mixtures, but with the components introduced on a much smaller scale.

Alternatively, nanothermites can be made in a liquid solution that later gels, capturing the reactive components in an intimately mixed composite which is dried before it can be ignited. These are called sol-gel nanothermites, also known more generally as energetic nanocomposites.

Sol-gel nanothermites often contain other components such as fluorinated silanes, and therefore carbon and silicon. The nanothermite found in World Trade Center (WTC) dust samples contains carbon and silicon as well. Ignition of such a nanothermite results in the production of gas which rapidly expands and does pressure-volume work.

Below are ten references to the fact that nanothermites can be made to be explosive.

1. This 2004 paper from Lawrence Livermore Labs is quite clear about nanothermites being, “explosive composites based on thermite reactions.” It begins: “We have developed a new method of making nanostructured energetic materials, specifically explosives…using sol-gel chemistry.”

ref: https://e-reports-ext.llnl.gov/pdf/307362.pdf

2. This online article entitled “NanoScale Chemistry Yields Better Explosives” discusses the procedure by which sol-gel nanothermites are made and gives a nice TEM image of a nanothermite. https://www.llnl.gov/str/RSimpson.html

3. This US Department of Defense journal from Spring, 2002 describes how,
“All of the military services and some DOE and academic laboratories have active R&D programs aimed at exploiting the unique properties of nanomaterials that have potential to be used in energetic formulations for advanced explosives.”
It clarifies that [Nanothermite properties] “include energy output that is 2x that of high explosives” and “As sol-gel materials and methodology advance, there are a number of possible application areas that are envisioned [including] high-power, high-energy composite explosives.

ref: http://ammtiac.alionscience.com/pdf/AMPQ6_1ART06.pdf

4. A high explosive creates a shockwave that always travels at high, supersonic velocity from the point of origin. This paper describes how – “the reaction of the low density nanothermite composite leads to a fast propagating combustion, generating shock waves with Mach numbers up to 3.”

ref: http://apl.aip.org/applab/v91/i24/p243109_s1?isAuthorized=no%20

5. In this paper, former NIST employee Michael Zachariah discusses – “developing an oxidizer matrix for reaction with nano-aluminum [i.e. nanothermite] for energy intensive applications involving explosives and propellants…”.

ref: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/cm034740t

6. This article helps us understand how the military has been leveraging the potential explosive power of nanoenergetic compounds, specifically nanothermites. It describes a “new class of weaponry that uses energy-packed nanometals to create powerful, compact bombs.” Purdue professor Steven Son, who has become a leading expert on nanothermites, goes on to say that “Superthermites can increase the (chemical) reaction time by a thousand times … resulting in a very rapid reactive wave…used in many applications, including … explosive devices.” The article says that such nanoenergetics enable “building more lethal weapons such as cave-buster bombs that have several times the detonation force of conventional bombs.”

ref: http://www.technologyreview.com/NanoTech/14105/?a=f

7. Unlike some energetic materials, nanothermites are “tunable”, meaning the “ignition sensitivity thresholds, reaction rate, and pressure generation can be tailored to have a wide range of values.” Explosives generate pressure, as do nanothermites tuned to do just that.

ref: http://aiche.confex.com/aiche/2008/techprogram/P128319.HTM

8. This conference paper states that – “Nanoenergetic thermite materials release energy much faster than conventional energetic materials and have various potential military applications such as… explosives. They are likely to become the next-generation explosive materials.”

ref: http://aiche.confex.com/aiche/2008/techprogram/P131370.HTM

9. This paper from the US Army describes how: “These tunable nanoenergetic materials will be useful for various applications such as high-temperature non-detonable gas generators, adaptable flares, green primers for propellants and explosives, high power/energy explosives.

ref: http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA481290&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

10. Even Wikipedia knows that nanothermite is used for explosive applications.
Nanothermites “are generally developed for military use, propellants, explosives, and pyrotechnics. Because of their highly increased reaction rate, nanosized thermitic materials are being researched by the U.S. military with the aim of developing new types of bombs that are several times more powerful than conventional explosives.”

ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nano-thermite

Of course, many more such references exist in the literature and it doesn’t take much effort to discover them. Anyone who is interested in truth and justice can find these and more.

Future analytical work on WTC dust and other samples will help us understand what exact kind(s) of nanothermite was used at the WTC and, perhaps, for what purposes it was used. Until then, the simple fact that nanothermite has been found throughout the WTC dust is itself explosive. And it is an incendiary fact that official investigators and mainstream media have ignored that explosive fact for more than two years.’



[A] Steven E. Jones, et al, Fourteen Points of Agreement with Official Government Reports on the World Trade Center Destruction, The Open Civil Engineering Journal Volume 2, 2008

[B] Steven E. Jones, et al, Extremely high temperatures during the World Trade Center destruction, Journal of 9/11 Studies, Volume 19, January 2008,

[C] Kevin R. Ryan, et al, Environmental anomalies at the World Trade Center: evidence for energetic materials, The Environmentalist, Volume 29, Number 1 / March, 2009,

[D] Niels H. Harrit, et al, Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe, The Open Chemical Physics Journal, Volume 2, 2009.
Posted August 5 2011


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