THE PRODUCTION OF NITROGEN OXIDES BY LOW-ALTITUDE NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS

The paper reviews the production of oxides of nitrogen in low-altitude atmospheric thermonuclear explosions. As the air surrounding the explosion is heated above 2500K, producing a fireball, about 1-2% of nitric oxide is formed. The fireball cools rapidly by adiabatic expansion and by entraining cold air, and thus a significant fraction of this nitric oxide freezes in because the chemical reactions destroying it become extremely slow. The total production rate of nitric oxide per megaton yield is estimated. During the late fireball (or nuclear cloud) rise, a significant fraction of the NO is converted to NO2 by slow reaction with O2, but the production of other nitrogen oxides, and of nitrous and nitric acid in moist air, is negligible. The variation, with yield or burst altitude, of the NOx produced per megaton is small for yields between 1 and 60 Mt, and altitudes between sea level and a few kilometers. Estimates are made for the total NOx yield of the U.S. and USSR nuclear tests during 1961-62.

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    Institute for Defense Analyses

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  • Authors:
    • Gilmore, F R
  • Publication Date: 1974-7

Media Info

  • Pagination: 38 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00090413
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Technical Information Service
  • Report/Paper Numbers: IDA/HQ-73-15738
  • Contract Numbers: DOT-OS-30057
  • Files: NTIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: May 29 1975 12:00AM