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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Decomposition of the polycyclic nitramine explosive, CL-20, by Fe(0).

CL-20 (2,4,6,8,10,12-hexanitro-2,4,6,8,10,12-hexaazaisowurtzitane), C6H6N12O12, is an emerging energetic chemical that may replace RDX, but its degradation pathways are not well-known. In the present study, zerovalent iron was used to degrade CL-20 with the aim of determining its products and degradation pathways. In the absence of O2, CL-20 underwent a rapid decomposition with the concurrent formation of nitrite to ultimately produce nitrous oxide, ammonium, formate, glyoxal, and glycolate. LC/MS (ES-) showed the presence of several key products carrying important information on the initial reactions involved in the degradation of CL-20. For instance, a doubly denitrated intermediate of CL-20 was detected together with the mono- and dinitroso derivatives of the energetic chemical. Two other intermediates with [M-H]- at 392 and 376 Da, matching empirical formulas of C6H7N11O10 and C6H7N11O9, respectively, were detected. Using 15N-labeled CL-20, the two intermediates were tentatively identified as the denitrohydrogenated products of CL-20 and its mononitroso derivative, respectively. The present experimental findings suggest that CL-20 degraded via at least two initial routes: one involving denitration and the second involving sequential reduction of the N-NO2 to the corresponding nitroso (N-NO) derivatives prior to denitration and ring cleavage.[1]


  1. Decomposition of the polycyclic nitramine explosive, CL-20, by Fe(0). Balakrishnan, V.K., Monteil-Rivera, F., Halasz, A., Corbeanu, A., Hawari, J. Environ. Sci. Technol. (2004) [Pubmed]
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