Molecule of the Week

2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene

July 23, 2012

2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene—yes, TNT—is a well-known explosive with many uses: munitions, construction, and mining, to name a few. It’s less dangerous than you might think because it’s difficult to detonate; its relative safety is one reason that it’s used so widely. Its toxicity is more of a concern than its explosivity. TNT was first prepared by J. Wibrand in 1863—for use as a yellow dye. Its modern manufacturing process begins with toluene and consists of three separate nitration steps.

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