Background and Raw Materials
Dynamite is a commercial explosive used mainly for demolition and mining.
Invented in 1866 by Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896), it is more
accurately described as the packaging of nitroglycerin, a highly poisonous
explosive liquid, or other volatile compounds such as sensitized ammonium
nitrate. Dynamites can be packed in measured charges, transported easily,
and, with the proper detonator, exploded safely. Because a dynamite
explosion creates a “cool flame,” which is less likely to
ignite methane and coal dust mixtures present in mines, dynamites are
frequently used in coal mining operations.
Alfred Nobel, his father Immanuel, and younger brother Emil began
experimenting with nitroglycerin near Stockholm in 1862. Discovered by
Italian chemist Ascario Sobrero in 1846, nitroglycerin was highly unstable
and difficult to handle, and accidental explosions were not uncommon. One
such accident killed Emil, among others, at a plant in 1864. Despite the
personal tragedy, Alfred