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HMTD (Molecule of the Month for April 2008)

Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine

Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, or HMTD is a high explosive organic chemical compound, first synthesised in 1885 by Legler. The theorised structure lent itself well to acting as an initiating, or primary explosive. While still quite sensitive to shock and friction, it was relatively stable compared to other initiating explosives of the time, such as mercury fulminate, and proved to be relatively inexpensive and easy to synthesise. As such, it was quickly taken up as a primary explosive in mining applications.

Despite no longer being used in any official application, it remains a fairly popular home-made explosive and has been used in a large number of suicide bombings throughout the world, and was possibly used in the 7 July 2005 London bombings. It is claimed that it was to be used in the planned explosive in the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot.

Like other organic peroxides such as acetone peroxide, HMTD is an unstable compound that is sensitive to shock, friction, and heat. This makes the substance extremely dangerous to manufacture. It also reacts with most common metals, which can lead to detonation. HMTD is very stable when pure (acid free) and does not quickly sublimate like its acetone counterparts.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)




Picture of HMTD

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HMTD structure
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Picture of HMTD

C6 H12 N2 O6

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for April 2008 )