Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Thursday, April 16, 2015


U.S. Marines with Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, breach a door with a demolitions charge during breach training at Fort Pickett, Va., April 10, 2015. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua W. Brown.
See that squiggly, glow-in-the-dark cord in the center of the picture? What are they doing? Playing with silly string? No, it's Nonel, a non-electric means of detonating explosives. If you are old like me, you might remember seeing signs around road construction projects asking you to turn off your radios. It wasn't your radio receiver they were worried about, it was the radio transmitters. Only a few people had them back then, being as they cost fortune and were bolted into your car, not like the miniature ones everyone carries around in their pocket these days. Rumor had it radio signals could cause electrically operated detonators to explode, leading to all kinds of mayhem.
    Anyway, we don't see those signs anymore because about 25 years about Nonel replaced electrical detonators and now most everyone uses it. Nonel is a plastic tube filled with a low grade explosive. You trigger it at one end and the explosion races down the tube and triggers the blasting cap at the other end. This explosion causes the tube to light up, but only for a split second, and somehow the photographer managed to capture it here.

The brief flash of light you see before the ground erupts is the network of Nonel strung to all the explosives buried in this blasting site. Dyno Nobel has a video up on YouTube that gives a good overview.

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