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HLSS230 - Chemistry of Explosives

Course Details

Course Code: HLSS230 Course ID: 3686 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

This course offers explosive handlers, bomb disposal technicians and responders an introduction to the chemical make-up and associated hazards of explosive substances. The combination of challenging reference sources and instructional interchange immerses the student in the world of explosive compounds including the research and development behind many explosive compounds widely used throughout the world today. This combination of reference materials, website research and group-related projects, allows the new explosive handler to learn the scientific basis for the long lists of safety precautions involved when handling explosives. Topics include, but are not limited to, history of explosives; basic chemical composition of explosives; and, safety precautions and guidelines when approaching or handling explosives. It will also cover researching information sites and references for material ranging from basic safety precautions of explosives to the resources available for emergency handlers and responders. The course helps students understand the hazards associated with common explosive materials.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
06/28/21 - 12/03/21 12/06/21 - 01/30/22 Fall 2021 Session D 8 Week session
08/31/21 - 02/04/22 02/07/22 - 04/03/22 Winter 2022 Session I 8 Week session
10/26/21 - 04/01/22 04/04/22 - 05/29/22 Spring 2022 Session B 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Course Objectives:

CO-1 Explain the history & development of explosive use

CO-2 Recognize the importance of chemical composition data related to explosive materials

CO-3. Define and differentiate between combustion, deflagration & detonation related to explosive chemicals

CO-4 Discuss thermal decomposition, ignition, & initiation of explosive chemicals

CO-5 Differentiate between the various uses of explosive chemicals in relation to inherent hazards

CO-6 Explain the important role of safer nitroglycerin development

CO-7 Determine the proper course of action given the response atmosphere and explosive material/s encountered.

CO-8 Identify environmental concerns, and, the local, state, and federal regulations regarding the handling, use and transportation of explosive chemical materials.

CO-9 Discuss the importance of oxidation in explosive molecules

CO-10 Delineate the hazards between explosive chemicals in their normal ‘states’ and uses versus abnormal/unbalanced states and incorrect or criminal uses.

CO-11 Describe and define activation energy and the ‘heats of formation

CO-12 Identify the protective equipment associated with handling explosive chemicals

Co-13 Explain the need for DOT regulations regarding the handling. Transportation and use of explosive chemicals

Grades for this course will be based upon four grading instruments. There are weekly discussion questions that are provided in the Discussions Section. The student – when directed by the instructor -- will respond to the posting of other students. The mid-term and final exams will be a composite of multiple choice questions and short essays.

The grade scale for each of the different evaluation items are provided below:

  1. Akhaven, J. The Chemistry of Explosives (2nd ed.). RSC. NOTE: You have an electronic version of this text book provided in the Resources section of the LMS; also an electronic version of the Tenny Davis book previously used as a text book for this course.
  2. Guest Website Assigned Readings include:

DoD Directive 5160.62. Single Manager Responsibility for Military Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology and Training (EOD T&T) at:

Articles and topics available from The Domestic Preparedness Office from sources such as

Various search engines: Google, Bing or Ask (.com)

  1. Weekly Notes in the Course Materials Section.
Book Title:The Chemistry of Explosives, 3rd ed. - the VitalSource e-book is provided inside the classroom
Publication Info:VS-NBN International
Author:Jacqueline Akhavan
Unit Cost:$39.87
Electronic ISBN:9781782626299
Electronic Unit Cost:$36.00

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.