The explosion that took place in Beirut is recognized as the most powerful of all non-nuclear weapons ever officially recorded on the planet. The experts calculated that the energy released during the explosion would be enough to provide electricity for almost a hundred residential buildings within a year. On August 4, a series of powerful explosions was recorded in the port of Beirut in Lebanon.
Their power turned out to be the strongest in the non-nuclear category. Previously, the researchers were unable to document such events. Many eyewitnesses were able to capture the explosions and the ensuing wave on their mobile phones by sharing the recordings on social networks.
University engineers selected 16 videos and analyzed them, resulting in an overview of the events and their consequences. By visual evidence, they were able to assess the strength of the explosions. From these video recordings, they collected 38 important details, determined the onset of the blast wave, conducted a frame-by-frame analysis of the filming, and calculated the size of the fireball.
As a result, it turned out that the power of the explosion was from 500 to 1100 metric tons of the explosive chemical compound trinitrotoluene. It is about 5% of the power of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In a split second, approximately 1 gigawatt-hour of energy was released in Beirut.
It is about 3 million solar panels per hour, 412 wind turbines, or 110 million LEDs. That capacity would be enough to provide electricity to about 100 homes for a year. The official version of the incident says that the explosions that killed 180 and injured over 6,000 people were caused by fires in a stock of explosive nitrate in the amount of 2,500 metric tons, which was stored in the port.
The explosions created a giant mushroom cloud containing toxic nitrogen dioxide. It was formed after the decomposition of solid ammonium nitrate into water vapor and gases. Sam Rigby, senior lecturer in the Department of Anti-Aircraft and Impact Engineering at the University of Sheffield, noted that the researchers decided to use the experience in the field of blasting to find out what exactly happened in Beirut and what consequences the accident could have. Thus, the scientists are ready to make a forecast for the events similar to that in future.