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Look up fulminate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Fulminates are chemical compounds which include the fulminate ion. The fulminate ion is a pseudohalic ion, acting like a halogen with its charge and reactivity. Due to the instability of the ion, they are friction-sensitive explosives. The best known is mercury fulminate which has been used as a primary explosive in detonators. Fulminates can be formed from metals, like silver and mercury, dissolved in nitric acid and reacted with alcohol. The chemical formula for the fulminate ion is ON+C. It is largely the presence of the weak single nitrogen-oxygen bond which leads to its instability. Nitrogen very easily forms a stable triple bond to another nitrogen atom, forming gaseous nitrogen.


Historical notes

Fulminates were discovered by Edward Charles Howard in 1800.[1][2][3]. Their use in firearms in a fulminating powder was first demonstrated by a Scottish minister, A. J. Forsyth, who was granted a patent in 1807[4]. Joshua Shaw then made the transition to their use in metallic encapsulations, to form a percussion cap, but did not patent his invention until 1822.

In the 1820s, the organic chemist Justus Liebig discovered silver fulminate (Ag-CNO) and Friedrich Wöhler discovered silver cyanate (Ag-NCO). The fact that these substances have the same chemical composition led to an acrid dispute, which was not resolved until Jöns Jakob Berzelius came up with the concept of isomers[5].



  1. ^ Edward Howard (1800). "On a New Fulminating Mercury.". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 90 (1): 204-238.
  2. ^ F. Kurzer (1999). "The Life and Work of Edward Charles Howard". Annals of Science 56: 113-141. doi:10.1080/000337999296445.
  3. ^ Edward Charles Howard (1774-1816), Scientist and sugar refiner publisher = National Portrain Gallery (January 5, 2005). Retrieved on 2006-08-30.
  4. ^ Rifled Breach Loader.
  5. ^ Greenberg, Arthur (2000). A Chemical History Tour. John Wiley & Sons, 198-203. ISBN 0-471-35408-2. 

See also

  • percussion cap
  • internal ballistics
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Fulminate". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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