This article originally appeared in issue #008 of the downloadable PDF magazine.
DX-1000 is a powerful explosive that was introduced by EFELPD Explosives of Rann (3106 Solomani Rim). On Rann, the explosive would not explode under any conditions without a detonator. The stability of the explosive was a major selling point which helped the company to gain a substantial market share in a period of two years. Another feature that made the explosive so popular was that smaller charges could be used in blasting. A third feature was the ability to easily mold the explosive into a shaped charge that directed the explosive force along specific lines.
Within three years, DX-1000 was being exported to many worlds along the Solomani Rim, Alpha Crucis, Dispora, and Old Expanses border. With the export outside of Rann’s planetary conditions DX-1000 began to experience major safety issues. Over the course of a year, a series of accidents occurred on dozens of worlds with a wide range of different planetary conditions. Fatal toxic fumes were created on three worlds with different atmospheric profiles. Six worlds reported premature detonation of DX-1000 at temperatures from -5° to +6°C.
All the reported detonations are well within the safe storage range of 0°C ±10°C. At least two reports documented that four tons of DX-1000 spontaneously combusted at different humidity levels. Testing of DX-1000 by local and Imperial investigators could not duplicate the instabilities reported on the other worlds at any of the manufacturing plants on Rann. EFELPD sent qualified staff to many of the reported location to verify the instabilities with mixed results. Some of the tests resulted in different instabilities reported while on other worlds the instabilities in the chemical composition could be found. Five years after introducing it, EFELPD Explosives voluntarily ceased exporting DX-1000 outside of the Rann system and stopped manufacturing the explosive by the end of the following year.
Originally DX-1000 was shipped in standard explosive shipping crates as a moldable solid and rated as extremely insensitive to exploding or being flammable. No toxic fumes were emitted during normal handling or after the explosive had been detonated at any of the standard atmospheric test points. Temperature testing showed that DX-1000 was stable from -40°C to 50°C but the best results were at 0°C. Humidity and gravity tolerance at the Rann facilities again showed a very stable product.
The result was a Universal Hazard Profile1 (UHP) of 400-X5X6-17: Explosive/Extremely Insensitive/Affects all life forms—Store in any atmosphere/0°C ±10°C/Any humidity/6G or less—Store or ship in Solid form/1 to 10 tons per unit.
The party is a team from EFELPD Explosives sent to determine why DX-1000 became unstable. In each of the conditions described above the common factor was an exteremely small amount of a rare gas that reacted with the different components of DX-1000. I would recommend that the team visit a minimum of 3 sites to no more than 6 before they come up with the cause of the instability.
1 UHP is from Challenge 31, “Hazardous Cargoes”, pp. 20 to 25, by Marcus L. Rowland.