RDX Formula

The chemical formula of RDX

RDX (short for Research Department Explosive) AKA Hexogen, is a chemical in the form of a white, crystalline solid. It was first used as an explosive during World War II. RDX is a highly stable compound and had a density of 1.82 grams per cubic centimeter. RDX also has a melting point of about 205 degrees celsius and an autoignition temperature of 234 degrees celsius. If RDX is ingested, seisures and a feeling of nausea can occur.


Production of RDX was widespread during WWII. Production totals often numbered in the millions if in kilograms. The U.S. alone produced 15,240,703 kg a month during WWII. Germany however could only produce about 7,112,328 of RDX a month.[1] One of the most common ways to produce RDX is known as the Bachmann Process. This involves reacting Hexamine, Nitric acid, and Ammonium Nitrate together.


The chemical itself was actually known about since 1899[2], but its attractive features had been undermined by its high price, and such other disadvantages. Canada sought to overcome these disadvantages around 1940, and discovered a new, more convenient process, but still did not meet satisfactory standards for it to be used. However, after the Tizard Mission (this was an organization, not a mission itself) visited North America, a tripartite (Canada, U.S., England) RDX Committee was established, and the Canadian data was shared with the U.S. scientists, who, although still netural[3] went to do work on the project.

Such cooperation resulted in a new method of making RDX, which had caused significant contributions for both America and Canada. However, larger production did not occur until 1942. Although the more effeicient techniques had been discovered by the allies, the Axis forces such as Germany and Japan also used RDX in large quantities. RDX was not used alone however, to make a stronger explosion, RDX was almost always used with another explosive.

Other Uses

As mentioned above, RDX was almost always used in mixtures with other compounds, often with TNT (i.e. Torpex). Other explosives that are made with RDX include Composition B, Composition C, and C-4.


  1. Urbański, Tadeusz. Chemistry and Technology of Explosives, Volume III. Elsevier (1983), Page 78

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