Odd Bomb


Unlike the surreally hyped scares that get rolled out hereabouts whenever the Bushies get bored, this business in Germany appears to be the real thing -- an actual, competent terrorist cell in an advanced stage of plotting an attack.

However, one aspect strikes me as rather strange. With a whole universe of easily obtained explosives, why on Earth were these guys stockpiling H2O2? In low concentrations hydrogen peroxide will disinfect wounds or bleach hair; at high concentration it's a potent oxidizing agent of many uses, but the closest it comes to exploding is occasional use as a rocket fuel component. (See for instance John Carmack's hobby.) Sure, you probably could build a peroxide bomb -- you could build a bomb based on lighter fluid, too -- but when there are much more potent substances more readily available, what's the point?


Welcome to the Will E. Coyote school of terrorism. This is why they got caught.

It can be used to make this, which was the explosive in the London Tube bombings:


That's true, and like the article says TATP is good for satchel bombs since it's easy to set off and doesn't trip nitrate sniffers. However, this group apparently had many hundreds of kilos of peroxide, which suggests car bombing quantities. And if they were seriously considering brewing up hundreds of kilos of TATP, they're probably lucky the authorities found them first. I can't even picture how to safely handle such quantities of the stuff.

This way, if any of their own got injured in the attack, there'd be a disinfectant close at hand. Try doing *that* with lighter fluid!

It's possible to build a rocket engine that runs on peroxide and methanol -- this is one strategy used by the above-mentioned Armadillo Aerospace. Given how touchy liquid-fuel rockets are, that means a peroxide-methanol bomb would likely also be feasible

So just switch to ethanol, and now you've got the makings of a decently powerful explosive, both components of which have disinfectant (and other fun) properties.

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This page contains a single entry by Milligan published on September 5, 2007 5:03 PM.

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