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Method 1: Separating NM from methanol in hobby fuel - evaporation
It will be hard to get pure nitromethane from your fuel but you should end up with a suitable mix consisting of 50-80% NM, 12% oil and the rest methanol. Methanol evaporates considerably faster than nitromethane, so I'd first just expose it to the air and see when the volume of the liquid had dropped about the right amount. At that point, I don't know exactly how well the oil, nitromethane, and remaining methanol will separate. Do not let it evaporate below 50% of the original volume or you will end up with more oil than nitromethane.
Water and nitromethane have close to the same boiling point (not that I'd boil nitromethane) and evaporation rates so I would not attempt to mix with water.
Method 2: Separating NM from methanol in hobby fuel - freezing
Example racing fuel contains:
30% NM (CH3-NO2)
We first need to know the properties of the components to be able to separate them:
1. All are soluble in each other
With this information we can conclude that simple freeze distillation can be the way to go. Methanol will be separated and you will be left with NM and oil mix. Freezing is, theoretically, a good way to get the methanol out. I haven’t tested it out personally but it should work. Most commercial freezers go as low as -25 to -30 Celsius which is enough to freeze the NM and thus making it easy to separate the methanol. This process should be repeated so that you ensure that you get most of the NM.
According to one forum source; it doesn’t matter if the oil is left in the mix as it won’t be able to make the compound inert. So the final mix should still be effective when creating ANNM.
Method 3: Fractional distillation
Nitrometane distilation from racing fuel is fairly straightforward. It works as a classic simple distillation but to get good results you should try to fraction it as much as possible (long column, packing...). You have to use a decent distillation setup with a thermometer. And no open flames! Eletric heating!
First the temperature remains stable at the boiling point of methanol (65C). You have only methanol coming. This is by far the largest fraction. You might as well stop here or you can continue if you want to gain even purer results.
Then temperature starts rising. You are now collecting a mix of methanol and Nitromethane. This is a large fraction, don't discard it, redistill.
Then temperature stays at the boiling point of nitromethane (101C). You are now collecting nitromethane.
Then you stop getting condensates and your oil begins to smoke a bit. Turn the heat off.
If you didn't fraction your distillation enough, a second distillation will give you almost pure nitromethane.
I got 150ml of rather pure nitromethane out of a gallon of 10% nitro fuel.
And for goodness sake DON'T USE A PROPANE BURNER! I did once, and underestimated the temperature. The glass vessel melted. Luckily it didn't contain anything combustible / explosive.
The Merck index says nitromethane forms explosive salts.Therefore, I believe the extraction of nitromethane with an alkali is not a good idea. These salts are known as nitronates and are extremely unstable. This problem may occur if you boil the NM mix at 80 celsius or above. Small yellow spots may form which is the forming of nitronates. As you turn the heat off, the yellow solids will re-dissolve in the initial nitromethane fraction.
In order to separate the methanol and the nitromathane you need a much better distillation rig, with a fractionating column and a thermometer. For vacuum distillation, you may want to try using a venturi pump - they only cost about 5 USD new.
You also might want to practice fractional distillation with other, less hazardous liquids before moving on to explosives.
Note: there is no good reason why you need purer than 80% NM, so don’t go overboard on the fractional distillation. The risks and efforts are not worth it.
General safety precautions
· AN/Urea: Caution: Never use copper or brass containers because ammonium nitrate reacts with these metals.
· Aluminium (Al) is very active because it has 3 collection in the outer shell then it can react with any metal, use plastic layers between alu and metal.
· General stirring. Try to use glass or wood when stirring.
· Always acquire and modify the skeleton (containers) first
· Cover as much of your skin as possible, when preparing chemicals, so it doesn’t absorb any fumes.
· Lab coat or apron should be worn at all times.
· Lab glassware can be heated to 500 Celsius. Quarts glass is used where high temperatures are needed up to 1200 Celsius. General lab glassware is used for heating liquids as most liquids will never encounter temperatures exceeding 300 Celsius.
· Never rapidly heat glass. Exposing glassware to immediate high temps can cause cracks and breakage. Cooling hot glassware to quickly can also lead to cracks and breaks. Always allow the heated glass to cool to room temperature by itself before applying it to cold water baths, ice baths, or dry ice baths. Quarts is an exception. It can be heated to 1000 Celsius and then dipped into water.
· Storage should be in a dark cool dry place away from other chemicals, a lot of explosive devices require use immediately after completion so storage of these could be dangerous.
· When the materials are added together this should be done gently and carefully to avoid spontaneous detonation, there is especially a danger of friction igniting the material when a chemical is being powdered. Another danger of friction is in the use of pipe bombs, the steel of the pipe can easily cause the powder to explode prematurely so it is advisable to use a plastic bag or paper between the pipe and the chemical.
· Completed explosive chemicals should be tested in small quantities to verify their operation.
· If an electronic detonating circuit is to be used, a safety switch should be added to the circuit to prevent an electronic fault causing an explosion.
Barrels are common containers for the main explosive. For a barrel, the detonator might be a bag or a metal/alu pipe filled with Picric acid, which contains an even smaller container - the blasting cap (DDNT).
Building the containers/skeleton
Always acquire and modify the skeleton (containers) before you manufacture the explosives. You can f example use a large barrel or medium/mini barrel to place the main charge in. Confinement will ensure an optimal detonation and subsequent destruction power. Non-confined explosives will due considerably less impact unless you design the skeleton in a way that you can create a shaped charge (one directional charge against a specific target).
Blasting cap container
As for the blasting cap container; you can f example use a 0,62 cm x 6,25 cm long alu tube which can usually be bought at hobby stores/model building stores. There are items which is used as landing gear for planes that might prove useful. Buy a board plastic straw to prevent the priming mixture to reacting the with metallic body even when aluminium is used.
Use a larger metal/alu pipe.
There are four different types of detonators you can use in order to activate your primary explosive (blasting cap):
1. Mechanical detonator
2. Electrical detonator
3. Chemical detonator
4. Fuse detonator
I would suggest choosing one of the following detonation devices:
Buy visco fuse or similar high quality fuse. Choose the most reliable fuse type (6mm in diameter is usually more reliable than 2,5 mm fuses but is harder to come by). Cover the fuse in surgical tubing or the sparks from the fuse may cause early detonation (from either nitro/fuel /chem fumes, or sparks may come into contact with load). There are several different types of fuses. Burn rate is usually 1cm per second (this should be specified on the supplier site) so if you want 2 minutes for evacuation you will need 1,2 meter fuse etc. Web addresses to European suppliers are found at pyroforums. If you’re going to use a fuse, you must normally add a little (1g-3g black powder or similar in the receiving end of the primary charge in order to successfully initiate the rest. You should create a blasting cap and arrange a test prior to operation.
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