Publications / Journal Article

TATB Sensitivity to Shocks from Electrical Arcs

Chen, Kenneth C.; Warne, Larry K.; Jorgenson, Roy E.; Niederhaus, John H.

Use of insensitive high explosives (IHEs) has significantly improved ammunition safety because of their remarkable insensitivity to violent cook-off, shock and impact. Triamino-trinitrobenzene (TATB) is the IHE used in many modern munitions. Previously, lightning simulations in different test configurations have shown that the required detonation threshold for standard density TATB at ambient and elevated temperatures (250 C) has a sufficient margin over the shock caused by an arc from the most severe lightning. In this paper, the Braginskii model with Lee-More channel conductivity prescription is used to demonstrate how electrical arcs from lightning could cause detonation in TATB. The steep rise and slow decay in typical lightning pulse are used in demonstrating that the shock pressure from an electrical arc, after reaching the peak, falls off faster than the inverse of the arc radius. For detonation to occur, two necessary detonation conditions must be met: the Pop-Plot criterion and minimum spot size requirement. The relevant Pop-Plot for TATB at 250 C was converted into an empirical detonation criterion, which is applicable to explosives subject to shocks of variable pressure. The arc cross-section was required to meet the minimum detonation spot size reported in the literature. One caveat is that when the shock pressure exceeds the detonation pressure the Pop-Plot may not be applicable, and the minimum spot size requirement may be smaller.