Explosives are used in many fields, including mining and demolition, but storing these devices is difficult and dangerous. Hundreds of accidents — many resulting in fatalities — have happened over the decades, simply because there is no true “off-switch” for explosive devices. But a group out of Los Alamos believe they’ve changed that.
Using 3D-printing, the researchers built an explosive lattice filled with empty voids. With air in these gaps, any attempt to light the explosive fizzle. The outer layers of the explosive burn, but there’s no detonation. It is, relatively speaking, safe for storage.
But once the device is filled with water (or another liquid), the story is different. In this situation, the blast wave propagates and the explosive detonates, releasing 98% more energy than in its “storage” mode. Changing the liquid inside the device can enhance the explosive energy, too, which could allow users to tune the discharge. (Image credit: S. Moses; video and research credit: C. Brown et al.; via APS Physics)