Sandia National Laboratories chemical engineer Vicki Chavez worked with Kevin Fleming to prove that iron sulfate mixed with ammonium nitrate could produce a non-detonable fertilizer (Photo: by Randy Montoya)
Ammonium nitrate is a commonly used fertilizer, but when mixed with a fuel such as diesel, it makes a powerful explosive – as seen in last week’s fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. But it's the deliberate use of the compound in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and acts of terror such as the Oklahoma City bombing that gives rise to even greater cause for concern. This is why Kevin Fleming, an optical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, developed a fertilizer alternative that isn’t detonable and therefore can’t be used in a bomb.
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