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Development of a Safe Continuous Process to NaNT via Solid Phase "Catch and Release"

Sodium nitrotetrazolate (NaNT) is a key intermediate to copper(I) nitrotetrazolate (DBX-1), a material of interest as a replacement for lead based primary explosives. Historical syntheses of NaNT were plagued with safety issues that prevented the large-scale manufacturing of NaNT. In this article, we detail the development of a safe process to generate NaNT in a continuous flow reactor via solid phase “catch and release”; a process that also reduces the formation of the most detrimental impurities that inhibit the synthesis of DBX-1. Furthermore, we discuss the demonstration of this process in 100 and 1000 mL continuous stirred tank reactors (CSTRs) and implications of scale-up of this process for robust production of NaNT at the manufacturing scale.

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