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Explosives: the Past, Present and Future

Explosives have been part of our lives for many years with the first recording of an explosive powder being used in China in 220BC. In the 13th Century, Roger Bacon experimented with explosives by making black powder and by the end of the 13th Century explosives were being used by many European countries. Nowadays explosives are part of our everyday life; they are in airbags, ejector seats and fireworks as well as propulsion for space shuttles, demolition aids and under water cutting charges for off-shore gas lines.

Join Professor Jackie Akhavan as she introduces the various types of explosions and explains the conditions under which a chemical reaction becomes an explosive. Jackie will explore the inputs to initiate the explosive and the subsequent outputs. In looking at the past, she will cover explosive mixtures and introduce the concept of molecular explosives which are used today. Looking forward, she’ll highlight current research activities.

Jackie Akhavan is a Professor of explosives chemistry at Cranfield University and is the Head of the Centre for Defence Chemistry. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Institute of Explosive Engineers. Her expertise is in high explosives, including polymer bonded explosives and pastes, synthesis of energetic polymers by flow nitration, synthesis of smart polymers for detection of explosives, and control of particle size by spray drying. The unique facilities at Cranfield University allows Professor Akhavan and her team to manufacture up to ½kg of explosives, carry out safety and hazards tests as well as performance trials.

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