Microstructural characterization of pipe bomb fragments

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Recovered pipe bomb fragments, exploded under controlled conditions, have been characterized using scanning electron microscopy, optical microscopy and microhardness. Specifically, this paper examines the microstructural changes in plain carbon-steel fragments collected after the controlled explosion of galvanized, schedule 40, continuously welded, steel pipes filled with various smokeless powders. A number of microstructural changes were observed in the recovered pipe fragments: deformation of the soft alpha-ferrite grains, deformation of pearlite colonies, twin formation, bands of distorted pearlite colonies, slip bands, and cross-slip bands. These microstructural changes were correlated with the relative energy of the smokeless powder fillers. The energy of the smokeless powder was reflected in a reduction in thickness of the pipe fragments (due to plastic strain prior to fracture) and an increase in microhardness. Moreover, within fragments from a single pipe, there was a radial variation in microhardness, with the microhardness at the outer wall being greater than that at the inner wall. These findings were consistent with the premise that, with the high energy fillers, extensive plastic deformation and wall thinning occurred prior to pipe fracture. Ultimately, the information collected from this investigation will be used to develop a database, where the fragment microstructure and microhardness will be correlated with type of explosive filler and bomb design. Some analyses, specifically wall thinning and microhardness, may aid in field characterization of explosive devices. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.




Gregory, O., Oxley, J., Smith, J., Platek, M., Ghonem, H., Bernier, E., … Cumminskey, C. (2010). Microstructural characterization of pipe bomb fragments. Materials Characterization, 61(3), 347–354. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matchar.2009.12.017

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