Estimates of the Electromagnetic Radiation From Detonation of Conventional Explosives

Report No. ARL-TR-2447
Authors: Jonathan E. Fine
Date/Pages: September 2001; 27 pages
Abstract: An order of magnitude model is presented to estimate radiation from detonation of conventional explosives in an attempt to predict frequency bands and signal levels detected by other investigators. An earlier model describing the radiation generated by explosions has been refined to include the contribution of the heat capacity of the detonation products and the temperature dependence of the concentration of ionized particles. Relationships are established between explosions of uncased Composition B, the radiation frequency bands, and the E- and B-field amplitudes as a function of detection distance. The model considers the radiation from particles ionized by passage of the shock wave. A comparison of the calculated radiation with thermal and background noise estimates shows that the radiation is not detectable above the background radiation even for large explosives at close distances. The fact that radiation has been observed indicates either that the assumptions over-simplify the phenomenon or that the primary mechanism of radiation production has been overlooked. Ionized particles exist 10(exp 6) to 10(exp 8) times longer than the time to accelerate across the shock wave, during which the particles could produce radiation by some other means. Therefore, it is likely that the model greatly underestimates the quantity of radiation produced.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2001