How Was Dynamite Discovered?


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Sudipa Sarkar answered
According to history, the Chinese invented gunpowder before the Christian era. But there was a gap. When European nations started to use it in the 14th century, they were able to spread their influence into the rest of the world. The old fashioned gunpowder was a mixture of potassium nitrate or saltpeter, charcoal and sulphur. It was the existing explosive until the end of 19th century.

A German chemist named Schoenbein treated cotton fibers with a mixture of highly concentrated nitric and sulphuric acids and invented guncotton in the year 1845. It was much superior to gunpowder. At the same time Ascanio Sobrero a Italian was experimenting with glycerin and once he let it fall drop by drop into a strong mixture of nitric and sulphuric acids and as a byproduct nitroglycerin invented. It was an explosive even more powerful than guncotton.

After a gap of 20 years a Swedish chemist Alfred Noble discovered dynamite by chance. Once Noble was removing some cans of nitroglycerin from a box of kieselguhr in which he had them packed. Then he found that one had sprung a leak and that the mixture of nitroglycerin and kieselguhr had formed a solid mass. That made an explosive much less sensitive to shock and thus dynamite was discovered.

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