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Urea nitrate

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Title: Urea nitrate  
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Subject: Table of explosive detonation velocities, List of UN numbers 0201 to 0300, List of UN numbers 1301 to 1400, List of UN Numbers 3301 to 3400
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Urea nitrate

Urea nitrate
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Molecular formula CH5N3O4
Molar mass 123.068 g/mol
Density 1.69 g/cm3
Melting point

163 °C

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Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Urea nitrate is a fertilizer-based high explosive that has been used in improvised explosive devices in Israel, Iraq, and various other terrorist acts elsewhere in the world, like the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.[1] It has a destructive power similar to better-known ammonium nitrate explosives, with a velocity of detonation between 11,155 ft/s (3,400 m/s) and 15,420 ft/s (4,700 m/s).[2]

Urea nitrate is produced in one step by reaction of urea with nitric acid. This is an exothermic reaction, so steps must be taken to control the temperature.

Urea nitrate explosions may be initiated using a blasting cap. [2]


Urea contains a carbonyl group. The more electronegative oxygen atom pulls electrons away from the carbon forming a greater electron density around the oxygen, giving the oxygen a partial negative charge and forming a polar bond. When nitric acid is presented, it ionizes. A hydrogen ion [proton] contributed by the acid is attracted to the oxygen and forms a covalent bond [electrophile H+]. The electronegative NO3- ion then is attracted to the positive hydrogen ion. This forms an ionic bond and hence the compound urea nitrate.

(NH2)2CO (aq) + HNO3 (aq) → (NH2)2COHNO3 (s)

The compound is favored by many amateur explosive enthusiasts as a principal explosive for use in larger charges. In this role it acts as a substitute for ammonium nitrate based explosives. This is due to the ease of acquiring the materials necessary to synthesize it, and its greater sensitivity to initiation compared to ammonium nitrate based explosives.


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