Sunday 8 July 2012

Explosive Antimony

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Warning - please don`t attempt to duplicate the work of George Gore. Explosion with the release of poisonous antimony trichloride fumes will result. The substance, by its very nature, is of absolutely no use as a practical explosive.

First prepared by G.Gore in 1858 by simple electrolysis, this substance is a solid solution of antimony trichloride in an unstable, allotropic form of antimony. It is prepared by the slow electrolysis of a concentrated solution of antimony trichloride in hydrochloric acid. The anode is of antimony metal, the cathode of platinum or copper. The explosive antimony (alpha-antimony allotrope with between 4 and 20% antimony trichloride) is deposited on the cathode and, in appearance, looks like polished graphite. If the deposit is scratched, the meta-stable allotrope is violently converted into the stable allotrope (common, or beta antimony) with the evolution of heat. The antimony trichloride held as a solid solution is vapourised (b.p. 223.5), and the explosion is therefore accompanied by the evolution of white clouds of the trichloride.
Similar phenomenon can be observed by the electrolysis of the tribromide and tri-iodide.

Here's a vid which is not impressive at all -

From "Modern Inorganic Chemistry" by JW Mellor, 1934

Amorphous antimony. The ordinary crystalline form of antimony maybe obtained, 
like copper and other metals, by decomposing solutions containing the metal by 
transmitting the galvanic current ; but in some cases the antimony is deposited from 
very strong solutions in an amorphous condition, having properties very different 
from those of ordinary antimony. The best mode of obtaining it in this form is to 
decompose a solution of 1 part of tartar emetic (tartrate of antimony and potash) in 
4 parts of a strong solution of terchloride of antimony (obtained by heating hydro- 
chloric acid with sulphide of antimony till it refuses to dissolve any more), by the 
aid of three cells of Smee's battery, the zinc of which is connected by a copper wire
with a plate of copper immersed in the antimonial solution, whilst the platinised 
silver of the battery is connected with a plate of antimony in the same solution, at 
some little distance from the copper plate. The deposit of antimony which forms 
upon the copper has a brilliant metallic appearance, but is amorphous, and not crys- 
talline, like the ordinary metal. If it be gently heated or sharply struck, its tem- 
perature suddenly rises to about 400, and it becomes converted into a form more
nearly resembling crystalline antimony. At the same time, however, thick fumes of 
terchloride of antimony are evolved, for this substance is always present in the amor- 
phous antimony to the amount of 5 or 6 per cent.,* so that, as yet, there is not suffi- 
cient evidence to establish beyond a doubt the existence of a pure amorphous form 
of antimony corresponding to amorphous phosphorous, however probable this may 
appear from the chemical resemblance between these elements.

Charles Loudon Bloxam. Chemistry, inorganic and organic : with experiments and a comparison of equivalent and molecular formulæ

From "A Text-Book of Inorganic Chemistry" by JR Partington, 1946

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Unrelated to this post, below is an example of
eclectic science esoterica 

Real time video of tin crystals growing electrolytically from stannous chloride solution in hydrochloric acid. Anode 95/5 tin/antimony electrical solder, cathode stainless steel.

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WARNING - Many subjects outlined within this site are extremely dangerous and are provided here for information only. Please don`t experiment with high voltages or chemicals unless you are fully conversant with safe laboratory practices. No liability will be accepted for death, injury or damage arising from experimentation using any information or materials supplied.