History of Explosives and Blasting
In the US and Canada alone, blasters use more than 6 billion pounds of explosives and 75 million detonators per year. Coal mining accounts for two-thirds of consumed explosives of which more than 80% of it is ANFO. Today, sophisticated explosive materials and new technologies are being utilized to improve the quality of life for all of us. Computers are used to: drill, log and monitor blastholes — automate blending and delivery with bulk trucks — determine bench heights and face conditions — analyze production efficiency, design blast patterns — and more. The time line below presents the history of the explosives industry... a tradition of excellence in mining, quarrying, construction, and many other pursuits involving the peaceful use of explosives to break rock in service to mankind. 50 B.C.
Early form of seismoscope used by Chang Heng in China.
"Greek-fire" used in battle.
Arabian author Abd Allah records use of saltpeter as main ingredient of black powder. 13th Centur
yChinese use "Roman Candles" in seige of Kai-Feng Fu.
English Friar Roger Bacon publishes gunpowder formula.
German Franciscan Monk, Berthold Schwarts developed gunpowder and its use in guns.
German Franciscan Monk
First recorded use of black powder for rock blasting (Hungary). 1670
Black powder use spreads to tin mines of Cornwall England by German miners. 1675
First powder mill in U.S. constructed in Milton, Mass.
First recorded use of black powder for road construction in Switzerland. 1745
Doctor Watson of British Royal Society explodes black powder with an electric spark. 1749
Hungarian Miners introduce chisel bit.
American inventor Benjamin Franklin encases and compresses powder in cartridges. 1773
Black powder first used in U.S. at Copper Mine in Connecticut. 1785
Machine to detect earthquake vibrations invented.
First use of black powder in construction of road tunnel in Pennsylvania. 1830
Moses Shaw of New York patents electric firing of black powder. 1831
William Bickford of Cornwall, England invents Safety Fuse.
Dr. Robert Hare of University of Pennsylvania demonstrates bridge wire electric blasting cap. 1841
Milne invents "Seismometer" to detect ground vibrations by earthquakes. 1846
Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero discovers nitroglycerine.
Jonathan Couch patents first practical American percussion-style steam powered rock drill. 1861
First practical use of piston-type compressed air mechanical drill in 8-mile long Mount Cenis Tunnel in the Alps. 1863
Wilbrand invents Trinitrotoluene (TNT).
Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel develops first detonating blasting cap.
The Father of Explosives
Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel invents dynamite by mixing kieselguhr with nitroglycerine. 1866
First U.S. plant to make nitroglycerine, Little Ferry, NJ.
First use of diamond drills for prospecting and blasthole drilling. 1870
First U.S. dynamite plant, Giant Powder Co., San Francisco, California. 1871
Simon Ingersoll patents tripod mount for steam powered rock drill. 1872
Gunpowder Trade Association formed in U.S.
Nobel patents blasting gelatine.
Rack bar electric blasting machine developed by H. Julius Smith. 1884
Ammonium Nitrate (AN) becomes widely used in dynamite formulations. 1885
Two component explosives used in New York Harbor.
Nobel invents ballistite, a dense smokeless powder.
Permitted explosives officially recognized in Europe.
First stoper drill with hammering action and airleg feed introduced by C.H. Shaw. 1896
First successful hammer drill with hollow steel patented by J. George Leyner. 1902
Detonating cord introduced in Europe.
Consumption of black powder in U.S. more than 287 million pounds. 1908
U.S. Geological Survey assigned task of testing explosives for use in underground coal mines. 1910
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