(redirected from TNT (explosive))
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.


trinitrotoluene or TNT (trīˌnīˌtrōtŏlˈyo͞oēn), CH3C6H2(NO2)3, crystalline, aromatic compound that melts at 81℃. It is prepared by the nitration of toluene. Trinitrotoluene is a high explosive, but, unlike nitroglycerin, it is unaffected by ordinary shocks and jarring, and must be set off by a detonator. Because it does not react with metals, it can be used in filling metal shells. It is often mixed with other explosives, e.g., with ammonium nitrate to form amatol.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(TNT; also trotyl or tolite), a high explosive; a crystalline substance that yellows during storage (the industrial product is yellow). Readily soluble in acetone and benzene; poorly soluble in water (0.013 g trinitrotoluene dissolves in 100 milliliters water at 20°C). Solidification point, 80.85°C; density, about 1.600 g/cm3; bulk density, 0.9 g/cm3.

Trinitrotoluene is chemically stable and may be stored for prolonged periods without decomposition, with retention of explosive properties. Under the action of bases, intensely colored complexes are formed, and under the action of alkali bases, readily explosive, unstable derivatives (trotylates) are formed. The explosive properties of trinitrotoluene are as follows: heat of explosion, 4,190 kilojoules per kg. or 1,000 kilocalories per kg, for a density of 1.5 g/cm3; volume of gaseous explosive products, 730 //kg; maximum rate of detonation, 7,000 m/sec; flash point, 290°C. Upon explosion of trinitrotoluene, a large quantity of toxic carbon monoxide is formed.

Trinitrotoluene is produced by the nitration of toluene using a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids, with subsequent washing with an aqueous solution of sodium sulfite. It is used for ammunition charges and for blasting, both in pure form and in mixtures—for example, with ammonium nitrate (ammonia explosives, ammonals, and ammatols) or with aluminum (Tritonal).


Orlova, E. Iu. Khimiia i tekhnologiia brizantnykh vzryvchatykh veshchestv, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.