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ammonium nitrate

ammonium nitrate, chemical compound, NH4NO3, that exists as colorless, rhombohedral crystals at room temperature but changes to monoclinic crystals when heated above 32°C. It is extremely soluble in water and soluble in alcohol and liquid ammonia. It is prepared commercially by reaction of nitric acid and ammonia. Major uses are in fertilizers and explosives. For fertilizers it is in the form of small clay-coated pellets. For explosives it is sometimes mixed with other substances, e.g., TNT, so that it is more easily detonated. It is also used in solid-fuel rocket propellants, in pyrotechnics, and in the production of nitrous oxide.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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