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How Liquid explosives work?

Nitric acid and glycerin can also be combined to create an explosive.

india Updated: Aug 16, 2006 15:11 IST

Q: What is a liquid explosive?

A: The most common is nitroglycerin, a key ingredient in dynamite. Another is triacetone triperoxide (TATP). Nitric acid and glycerin can also be combined to create an explosive.

Q: How do liquid explosives work?

A: Liquid explosive is a chemical compound that is relatively unstable due to its state of matter.  A physical, chemical, or electrical jolt causes it to explode, usually producing a fair amount of heat, light and a destructive shock wave (a very rapid change in air or water pressure).

Like solid explosives, liquid explosives vary in power, depending on their recipe and how they are packed into a container.

Q: Why liquid explosives?

A: Security screeners have gotten much better at detecting solid explosives, while liquid explosives have proven much harder to detect. They're a real threat to airlines.

In addition, liquid explosives can be made from fairly common ingredients, including substances typically found in your garage or under your sink.

A terrorist could assemble an explosive from components carried aboard a plane in separate containers or by different people -- making it even harder for screeners to spot.

One person could carry ingredient A on to the plane, another ingredient B, and then they could be combined.

On the flipside…

Like many homemade explosives, they can be very volatile.

Some can be set off by a stray spark, a change in temperature, exposure to sunlight, or even an accidental bump.

(with inputs from National Public Radio)