RDX Full Form Name: RDX Meaning

Full Form of RDX:

Research Department eXplosive

RDX Full Form is Research Department eXplosive. RDX is also termed as Royal Demolition eXplosive. It is a powerful explosive which was discovered and patented by a German named Georg Friedrich Henning in 1898. However, the name was coined by The British. In the US, it was commonly known as cyclonite. Germans named it ‘hexogen’ and Italians named it ‘T4’. Though it was discovered in 1898, it was never used till World War II. During the World War II, the USA had secretively produced RDX in large scale.

RDX is a hard and solid white crystalline, which was not soluble in water. It is soluble to a certain extent in some solvents. Since it is highly sensitive, it is normally mixed with various substances to bring down the sensitivity. It is also used to blast caps in non-military use. The chemical name of RDX is cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine. It is stable during storage and is one of the most potent high explosives.

RDX Full Form – Additional Information

Research Department Explosive, which will hereinafter be referred to as RDX throughout the article, refers to an explosive nitroamine, which is extensively utilized in industrial and military applications. RDX is an explosive, which is stronger than Trinitrotoluene (abbreviated as TNT), and was widely used in the World War II. RDX has several names such as hexogen (generally used in Germany); cyclonite; Research Department Formula X; T4, etc.

Cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine is the chemical name of RDX and some its several variants are cyclotrimethylene trinitramine and cyclotrimethylene-trinitramine. RDX is a crystallized white solid when in its pure state. Its application is often found when it is mixed with different explosives as well as phlegmatizers, plasticizers, and desensitizers.  It is a stable substance and also one of the strongest high explosives used in the military. RDX has a history of its known and it is particularly known for its extensive use during the devastating World War II. There are many aspects of RDX, which define it. So, here are five points about RDX that everyone must know about:

The Name RDX

The first thing we shall deal with is the name of our subject-matter. As mentioned above, RDX is known by other names but it is generally known by this abbreviated version. In the year 1943, Tenny L Davis wrote that the explosive is generally known by the name cyclonite in the United States of America whereas the Germans knew it by the name Hexogen and the Italians by the name T4. In the period 1930s, the Royal Arsenal started planning the use of cylconite against the U-boats belonging to Germans. The British desired a powerful explosive, even stronger than the ordinarily used TNT. For various security reasons, the British decided to name the explosive as Research Department Explosive. In the United States, the word RDX appeared in around the year 1946 but its initials were not explained then. Soon after the term RDX became a popular abbreviation in the industrial and military activities. It is now part of common vocabulary.

Usage of RDX

It has already been noted that RDX was extensively used during the World War II and its use often came in combination with TNT for example Torpex, Cyclotols, H6, and Composition B. RDX was a part of the first plastic explosives and is believed that it is often used in several bomb plots such as terrorist plots. In the Dambusters Raid, the bouncing bomb was used whose depth charges each contained about 6,600 pounds of Torpex.

RDX is the base of several commonly used military explosives—

  • Composition A is a granular explosive that is made of plasticizing wax and RDX.
  • Composition B is an explosive, which is a castable mixture of 40 percent of TNT and 60 percent of RDX. It has 1 percent of wax added to it.
  • Composition C is another explosive, which consists of plasticizer, diethylhexyl, binder, RDX, and other compounds.
  • DBX, which is also known as Depth Bomb Explosive, is a castable mixture containing 21 percent of RDX, 40 percent of TNT, 21 percent of ammonium nitrate, and about 18 percent of powdered aluminum. It was developed in the aftermath of World War II.
  • Cyclotol, which is castable mixture containing 20-50 percent of TNT and 50-80 percent of RDX.
  • H-6 is another explosive made of a castable mixture of TNT, RDX, paraffin wax, and powdered aluminum.
  • Semtex is an explosive used as plastic demolition explosive and contains PETN and RDX as chief energetic components.
  • Torpex which comprises 24 percent of RDX, 18 percent of powdered aluminum, and 40 percent of TNT. It was developed at the time of World War II for the purpose of military use in underwater ordnance.

Though RDX is mainly used for military and industrial purposes, it also has utility in other areas such as in controlled demolition to bring down structures.

Properties of RDX

The following are the properties of RDX:

  • RDX is a colorless solid and has crystal density amounting to 1.82 g/cm3
  • RDX can be obtained by causing a reaction between a white fuming nitric acid (Abbreviated as WFNA) and Hexamine. The reaction yields ammonium nitrate and dinitromethane as by products. The chemical reaction has been stated in the following paragraph:

(CH2)6N4 + 10 HNO3 → (CH2-N-NO2)3 + 3 CH2(NO3)2 + NH4NO3 + 3 H2O

  • RDX is basically a heterocycle and occurs in the form of a ring.
  • RDX undergoes decomposition at 170 degree Celsius and melting at 204 degree Celsius.
  • RDX is a very stable compound when stored at room temperature. It will only burn not explode and can be detonated only with the help of detonator.
  • In a vacuum, RDX undergoes sublimation, which restricts its utility in spacecrafts in pyrotechnic fasteners.
  • RDX is more powerful than TNT. When exploded, its explosive power is 1.5 times more than that of TNT.

Toxicity in RDX

One of the major issues of study in respect of RDX has been toxicity. RDX is known to cause convulsions, also known as seizures, in those who ingest it. This has been found among military men and munition workers, who inhale dust at the time of manufacture. Reports say that minimum one fatal accident among munition workers has been reportedly linked with the toxicity of RDX. Toxicity in RDX can cause carcinogenic problems in human beings. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (abbreviated as EPA) has engaged scientists in studying the toxicity in RDX and its impact on its users.

RDX and terrorism

RDX has been historically used in terrorist plots. One infamous example is the 1993 Bombay Bombings in which RDX bombs were installed in several vehicles. In the 2006 Mumbai Train Bombings, RDX was the chief component used in the manufacture of bombs. Other incidents are 2008 Jaipur Bombings, 1999 Russian Apartment Bombings, and 2010 Moscow Metro Bombings. In the year 2005, RDX was the chief component used in the bombs used in the assassination of the then Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri.

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