Mercury Fulminate

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mercury fulminate

[′mər·kyə·rē ′fu̇l·mə‚nāt]
(organic chemistry)
Hg(CNO)2 A gray, crystalline powder; explodes at the melting point; soluble in alcohol, ammonium hydroxide, and hot water; used for explosive caps and detonators. Also known as mercuric cyanate.

Mercury Fulminate


Hg(ONC)2, the mercury salt of fulminic acid; a detonator. It is a colorless or gray crystalline powder, insoluble in water. Density, 4.3 g/cm3. Mercury fulminate is dangerous to prepare: it is readily exploded by shock and friction and by the action of a flame or incandescent body. When carefully heated, mercury fulminate decomposes slowly; at 130°-150° C there is self-ignition with explosion. The moist compound is considerably less sensitive and dangerous.

Mercury fulminate is made by the action of mercuric nitrate and nitric acid on ethanol. It is used in priming detonators and igniters. Recently it has been replaced by more effective detonators, such as lead azide. Mercury fulminate was discovered by the British chemist E. Howard in 1799.


References in periodicals archive ?
But when he tried on six or seven occasions to make mercury fulminate "it simply went into a goo".
Opinion said investigations showed there was ''a large quantity'' of materials such as mercury fulminate, trinitrotoluene and pentrarrythritol tetranitrate inside the one-story annex building housing the bureau's special investigation unit.
Nobel's first detonator used gunpowder, but by 1865 it was replaced by mercury fulminate, the first molecular initiating explosive put to commercial use.