Activation of Zero-Valent Magnesium using Acetic Acid for the Degradation of Triacetone Triperoxide in Ethanol
Triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a cyclic peroxide, is an explosive frequently used by terrorists and amateur chemists due to the ease of synthesis and the availability of reagents. A degradation method for degrading TATP in ethanol (EtOH) was proposed using an activated, zero-valent magnesium (ZVMg) system. Different acids were tested to determine their effectiveness in activating Mg for the degradation of TATP, and short chain carboxylic acids, particularly acetic acid, were observed to have the greatest effect on the TATP degradation rate. Other ZVMg systems were also tested including ZVMg mechanically alloyed with Pd (Mg/Pd) and Mg/C, and the half-lives observed from the Mg, Mg/Pd, and Mg/C systems activated with acetic acid were determined to be 210 min, 69.3 min, and 2.24 min, respectively. The addition of the acetic acid to ZVMg was suggested to have two roles in the TATP degradation mechanism: (i) the removal of the passive oxide/hydroxide layer surface exposing the zero-valent Mg and (ii) the complexation of the carboxylate anion and Mg may provide a pathway for catalytic activity. The degradation of TATP in EtOH using this activated ZVMg system appears promising as an effective treatment method for TATP.
Keywords: TATP, Mg, metal activation, degradation, explosives
Triacetone triperoxide (TATP) is a trimeric cyclic peroxide explosive first synthesized in 1895 , and is prepared using a reaction mixture consisting of hydrogen peroxide and acetone, with the addition of an acid catalyst . Many recipes for the preparation of TATP are readily obtained using any internet search engine, and reagents used for synthesis are can be purchased at any hardware supply store thus TATP is frequently prepared and used by terrorist organizations  and amateur chemists . Due to the weak peroxide bonds and entropy driven explosion , TATP is highly sensitive to heat, shock, and friction, and TATP residues and reaction mixtures pose an extreme safety hazard. TATP can be found in its crystalline form or in various mixtures including aqueous reaction mixtures and dissolved in organic solutions. Different treatment methods are needed to remove and degrade TATP in a variety of matrices.
The decomposition of TATP has been explored in literature; however, few methods provide a degradation method that is suitable for field application. TATP has been shown to thermally decompose in the temperature ranges of 130-160°C , and is particularly sensitive to strong acids (H2SO4)  and acid vapors (HCl) . A small number of chemical decomposition methods have employed the use of metals or metal ions. These methods include the degradation of TATP refluxing with SnCl2 in toluene at elevated temperatures , exposing to Cu at a low pH , treating solution with metal ions and metals , and...