Minerals, Metals, and Other Materials

Man-Made Products

Who invented dynamite?

Dynamite was not an accidental discovery but the result of a methodical search by the Swedish technologist Alfred Nobel (1833–1896). Nitroglycerine had been discovered in 1849 by the Italian organic chemist Ascanio Sobriero (1812–1888), but it was so sensitive and difficult to control that it was useless. Nobel sought to turn nitroglycerine into a manageable solid by absorbing it into a porous substance. From 1866 to 1867 he tried an unusual mineral, kieselguhr, and created a doughlike explosive that was controllable. He also invented a detonating cap incorporating mercury fulminate with which nitroglycerine could be detonated at will.


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