A large explosion shook Lebanese capital Beirut killing and injuring thousands of people.The explosion occurred near the port wearhouse and smoke rippled through windows according to a security officer and a witness.The explosion was previously thought to be an attack but according to research, it is clear that a chemical Ammonium Nitrate caused the explosion.
The research team has found that over 2700 tons of Ammonium Nitrate were stored for years in the port wearhouse and it is exactly where the explosion occurred.According to a chemical professor from Rhode Island, the red and black smoke witnessed at the site of the explosion was as a result of an incomplete reaction.The professor believes that there was something that instigated the reaction thus leading to the explosion.
“If you look at the video (of the Beirut explosion), you saw the black smoke, you saw the red smoke, that was an incomplete reaction.I am assuming that there was a small explosion that instigated the reaction of the ammonium nitrate — whether that small explosion was an accident or something on purpose I have not heard yet,” said the professor.
Ammonium Nitrate is an odourless crystalline substance that is mostly used as fertilizer.It is highly explosive when exposed to contaminants or fuel oil then exposed to heat.It becomes very reactive and explodes when the temperatures are high.According to scientists, at temperatures of up to 170 degrees, the chemical begins to decompose.
Ammonium Nitrate has been used by deadliest terrorist groups like Taliban when conducting their operations.It can also be used in mining activities in operations that require detonation due to their highly explosive nature when in contact with fuel or contaminants.
Some of other explosions that were associated with Ammonium Nitrate are, Oklahoma bombing in 1995,The bombing at Texas fertilizer plant that killed more than 15 people in 2013 and the bombing in France at Toulouse in 2001 that saw up to 31 people lose their life.