Explosive properties are typically summarised on manufacturers' technical data sheets. The values most commonly referred to are the density of the explosive, the energy it is expected to release and its velocity of detonation (VOD). This information is provided so that blasting engineers can make a considered selection of the most appropriate product for a particular blasting application. As an example, a lower VOD and energy product is better suited to blasting in soft, weathered material. In contrast, blasting hard, competent material generally requires a higher energy product which is usually characterised by higher VOD and energy.
A review of the technical information supplied by manufacturers shows a wide range of methods of reporting both VOD and energy. A meaningful comparison between products from different suppliers is almost impossible to achieve based on these data. For a similar product, one supplier may have a VOD range of 2800–5800 m/s and a relative bulk strength of 1.34 while a corresponding product from another supplier is quoted with a VOD range of 3100–6300 m/s and a relative bulk strength of 192. In the end, the user has to rely on the level of confidence available from their experience using a certain type of explosive in the type of rock to be blasted at that mine.
This paper reviews some of the technical and supporting information that is freely available in the literature and attempts to provide some clarity as to what the numbers that are reported actually mean for the end user. An alternative approach to the evaluation of the suitability of a given explosive to blast a given rock mass is proposed.
Torrance, A C and Scott, A, 2015. What is relative about energy?, in Proceedings 11th International Symposium on Rock Fragmentation by Blasting, pp 447–454 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).