FAQ #8: What Is Nanothermite? Could It Have Been Used To Demolish The WTC Skyscrapers?

Written by Adam Taylor   
Thursday, 19 July 2012 
As shown above, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) created nano-thermite composite materials with explosive properties by adding gas-releasing components

In order to understand what nanothermite is, we first must understand what ordinary commercial thermite is. Thermite is a mixture of a metal and the oxide of another metal, usually aluminum (Al) and iron oxide (Fe2O3), in a granular or powder form. When ignited, the energetic Al-Fe thermite reaction produces molten iron and aluminum oxide, with the molten iron reaching temperatures well in excess of 4000° F. These temperatures are certainly high enough to allow cuts through structural steel, which generally has a melting point of around 2750° F.

There is also a variant of thermite known as thermate, which is a combination of thermite and sulfur, and is more efficient at cutting through steel. This form of thermite is believed to have been used in the demolition of World Trade Center Building 7. Although conventional thermite has the capability to cut through structural steel, it is technically an incendiary and not an explosive.

Nanothermite (also known as superthermite), simply put, is an ultra-fine-grained (UFG) variant of thermite that can be formulated to be explosive by adding gas-releasing substances. A general rule in chemistry is that the smaller the particles of the reactants, the faster the reaction. Nanothermite, as the name suggests, is thermite in which the particles are so small that they are measured in nanometers (one billionth of a meter). The authors of the peer-reviewed Active Thermitic Materials paper, which documents the discovery of these materials in the WTC dust, explain:

Available papers [by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and others] describe this material as an intimate mixture of UFG aluminum and iron oxide in nano-thermite composites to form pyrotechnics or explosives. The thermite reaction involves aluminum and a metal oxide, as in this typical reaction with iron oxide:

2Al + Fe2O3 ? Al2O3 + 2Fe (molten iron), ?H = -853.5 kJ/mole.

According to Randy Simpson, director of the Energetic Materials Center at LLNL, “since these ‘nanostructures’ are formed with particles on the nanometer scale, the performance can be improved over materials with particles the size of grains of sand or of powdered sugar”

The public announcements of the development of nanothermite composite materials as explosives date back several years before 9/11. As Dr. Frank Legge points out , “ researchers were describing methods of preparing nano-sized particles, using them in superthermite, and calling such material ‘explosive’ in 1997. It would therefore not be correct to assert that by 2001, four years later, they would be unable to utilize the material in demolition.”

In additon, 911research.wtc7.net notes the following:

One of the critiques of theories that thermite was used to destroy the World Trade Center skyscrapers asserts that thermite preparations don’t have sufficient explosive power to account for the observed features of the buildings’ destruction. This criticism seems to be uninformed by knowledge of some of the aluminothermic preparations known to exist – particularly those being researched for military applications.

Indeed, as 9/11 researcher Kevin Ryan has shown, there is substantial documentation detailing how nanothermite has been formulated to be explosive. For example, a summary report released at the 2008 AIChE conference by chemists at the University of Houston describes how nano-thermite composites can be engineered to create explosives:

Nanoenergetic thermite materials release energy much faster than conventional energetic materials and have various potential military applications, such as rocket propellants, aircraft fuel and explosives. They are likely to become the next-generation explosive materials, as they enable flexibility in energy density and power release through control of particle size distribution, stoichiometry and choice of fuel and oxidizer.

Some critics have also claimed that neither thermite nor nanothermite has ever been used to demolish steel structures. Even if this assertion were true, it would not be proof in and of itself that these materials could not be used in demolition. As Dr. Legge notes :

It could be true, and probably is true, that the three buildings which came down on 9/11 were the first in which some variation of the thermite reaction was used in demolition. It is however not logical to say something cannot have happened merely because it had not happened before: there has to be a first time for everything. It is certainly true that thermite had been used many times in arson attacks prior to 9/11.

However, we find that thermite has in fact been used to demolish steel structures in the past. For example, Popular Mechanics itself documents that thermite was used in the demolition of structures such as the Skyride Tower in Chicago and the dome of the German Reichstag. Furthermore, experiments conducted by civil engineer Jonathan Cole have shown that ordinary thermate can be used to effectively cut through steel columns. And as described earlier, the effectiveness of nanothermite is much higher than that of ordinary thermate.

To read more about the thermitic materials that were involved in the destruction of the three World Trade Center towers, see the AE911Truth Evidence webpage and our original article about the discovery of these composites in the WTC dust.


Uses of Nanothermite...

If you google "energetic nano-materials" - you can find plenty of references to explosives. Obviously we don't know the exact brand name of the nano-material (IH-135?) but let's call it "nanothermite" since that is the generally accepted term in the community.

Nanothermite is used mainly for rocket propellant and munitions:

- A major US nanothermite production facility can be found at US Navy's Indian Head organisation (just outside of Washington)
- These production facilities were built in the 1990s
- Job adverts for these facilities can be found on the web
- Conferences before Sept 2001 describe the versatility of nanothermite
- there are tens of thousands of articles on the military "energetic" uses of nano-materials
- Another known nanothermite production facility is the French SNPE facility (located next to the AZF factory) which blew up 10 days after 9/11 - blowing out every window in Toulose! This explosion was blamed on a Muslim that had started worked at the facility "just 5 days earlier."

US Navy Indian Head


There are thousands of links to nano-material research:

... energetic materials may have the potential of providing factors of 3 to 4 in increased energy release rate compared with conventional formulations. The Army's Novel Energetic Materials for the Objective Force effort seeks to mature advanced energetic materials to provide a 40% increase in deliverable energy from advanced gun propellant systems and a 20-50% increase in warhead effectiveness (munitions, active protection).

The paper then goes on to describe "cook-off" the rate that the material explodes... so this paper supports the many statements we have made elsewhere about the "tailorability" of explosives to particular circumstances. There is evidence that the US military who invest billions of your tax dollars into "energetic" research each year, has capacities way above civilian common knowledge of explosives.

Just a follow up on "cookoff violence". This is another way of saying the nature of the explosion. This is required for rocket fuels, for instance, where the rocket fuel needs to be used up smoothly and completely for maximum efficency. It is also require for munitions.

Ordinary thermite is used for cutting and doesn't explode or "runaway". Essentially, there is a ton of experiments to determine different compounds ability to release energy for either cutting, propelling (as in rocket fuel) or exploding. And the key to all this is nano-materials.

There are reams of studies such as this on the web...
"A potential method to mitigate cook-off violence of heavily confined explosives is to add a minor ingredient that reacts at temperatures below where cook off usually occurs, to burst the confinement and/or interfere with the thermal decomposition chemistry of the explosive so to slow subsequent reactions, This additive would not - impact the explosive's performance significantly, but only comes into play during relatively slow thermal heating..."


Removed from this naming straight jacket we can now find hundreds of thousands of references, such as "Nanoenergetic composites and ingredients can be used in the ignition, propulsion, as well as the warhead part of the weapon. With regards to the latter application, nanoenergetics hold promise as useful ingredients for the thermobaric (TBX) and TBX-like weapons, particularly due to their high degree of tailorability with regards to energy release and impulse management."


A little known fact associated with 9/11 - even less remembered than the Anthrax attacks after 9/11 - is the explosion at the AZF/SNPE complex outside of Toulouse on 21 September 2001 - just 10 days after 9/11.

AZF is fertiliser manufacturer - and originally blamed for the explosion. SNPE is a French Government nationalised industry. At Toulouse their facility made rocket fuel. Extracting the information about the AZF and SNPE explosions is pretty hard... Google AZF and SNPE and translate the french wikipedia entry. Jean-Marie Arnaudies, a maths teacher and writer of Maths text books, concludes that the epicenter of the explosions is 800m east of the AZF and within the SNPE compund. The SNPE factory built rocket fuel for Ariane V ie nanothermite. Was it one explosion or two? Jean-Marie Arnaudies recorded hundreds of testimonies and found two explosions and used scientific method to discover epicentres. All this non-disputed. We can dispute conclusions but these appear to be facts.

The Police report placed the blame for the explosion(s) on a new employee that had started work at AZF just 5 days earlier. Yes, a Muslim. The report of this investigation is shocking! (Shockingly bad).

Why is all this information relevant to 9/11? I think that the perpetrators were "destroying the weapon". Nanomaterials are difficult to make and are essentially unique to a production facility. I believe that the nanomaterials found in GZ could be traced back to the facility that made it - much like the anthrax was traced back to US Military Labs. So my hypothesis is that the nanomaterials in the GZ dust could have been traced back to SNPE facility and so this link needed to be removed either to cover the tracks of the perpetrators or to avoid linkage to any French institution or staff that may have aided the perpetrators.

The link of SNPE to nanothermite comes from 911blogger and Marie-Paule Pileni (the woman that resigned from Bentham after Harrit's paper was published in her journal) who has a CV crammed with research into the nano-material while at SNPE.

Coincidence City...

Komatsu-Dresser's "patented thermite demolition device" that could "demolish a concrete structure at a high efficiency, while preventing... noise".

The patent can be found here: Taku Murakami, US Patent 5532449 - Using plasma ARC and thermite to demolish concrete, http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5532449/description.html

Dresser was set up by "Neil Mallon", same name as GWB brother, Neil (Neil Mallon Bush), who was friends with their Dad. This company is now owned by er... Halliburton!

United States Patent 5,505,799 Makowiecki April 9, 1996

With thanks to sitting bull who posted this important find two weeks ago. http://www.911blogger.com/news/2012-07-06/us-patent-5505799-looks-manual-911-explosive

"It has thus been shown that the present invention provides a new type of explosive consisting of an organic component, such as carbon, inorganic elements or reactive metals, and inorganic oxides. Unlike organic explosive molecules, this explosive has properties that can be engineered because the structure is a fabricated multilayer not determined by molecular structure and bonding. It provides an alternative to any application for organic propellants or explosives. The stability of inorganic materials from which the new type explosive consists make it attractive for use in severe environments such a space applications. Also, the multilayer structure can be engineered to provide desired ignition temperatures and detonation characteristics. For example, the multilayer explosive can be engineered to be ignited by a mechanical scratch at room temperature, or to be as insensitive to ignition as a mixture of powder components. In addition, the ability to control the thickness (from 10 to 10,000 angstroms) of the various layers in the multilayer structure provide control over ignition sensitivity. Thicker layers in the multilayer structure produce a more stable material. In addition to beryllium, aluminum, and titanium, other inorganic elements or reactive metals such as lithium (Li), calcium (Ca), zirconium (Zr), and yttrium (Y), may be used. Also, the inorganic oxides of other metals, such as gallium (Ga), zinc (Zn), nickle (Ni), cobalt (Co), molybdenium (Mo), tin (Sn), and germanium (Ge) may be used. While carbon is the preferred organic component layer between the reactive layer and the oxide layer, other organic components (i.e. polymer films) which will react with both but also prevents any passivating reaction between the reactive material and the inorganic oxide material, may be used. Experimental verification thus far has only involved the use of carbon, as the organic separation layer or component.

While a particular embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and described, and specific materials, thicknesses, and processing procedures have been set forth to explain the principles of the invention, such are not intended to be limiting. Modifications and changes will become apparent to those skilled in the art, and it is intended that the invention be limited only by the scope of the appended claims."

....to those 'skilled in the art' who brought the great towers and #7 down.

Thank you, Adam Taylor

for this well-written article.

In an article from Los Alamos National Laboratory discussing super-thermite (aka nanothermite),
we read:

“Applications include triggering explosives for demolition”


Several years ago, we requested a small sample of this material from the Los Alamos lab, but (guess what?) our request was turned down. I wanted to compare that material directly with what we found in the WTC dust.

Thanks to all for the great article and comments

One paragraph in particular tugs at me in this article. It's the one about, "...critics...claimed...thermite...[never]...been used to demolish steel structures." Anyone preparing a deception as large as 9/11 would want to be absolutely certain that the key ingredient to the complete destruction of the scene-of-the-crime would actually work on this scale. If only a portion of the explosives went off, or if the explosives didn't do enough damage to bring the buildings down, the whole deception could have been immediately exposed.

Many parts of the efforts of the directors of our 9/11 terror play demonstrate the complete thoroughness of their preparations. They knew about and used the radar-holes in American ground-based radar. They knew about and used American defense training exercises to cover the actual attacks. The timing required to get four planes off the ground and on their way to multiple targets at essentially the same time was also exquisite. And, there were explosions in the North Tower that seemed to have been timed to the second of the impact of the second plane into the South Tower. Finally, the explosions in the twin towers as they came down were timed to take advantage of falling debris from upper stories to cover the explosive ejections of materials at lower levels. These efforts are not the efforts of people who would use something as untested as a rocket propellant to destroy multiple buildings without knowing with certainty that it worked first.

They would have tried it out in as real a situation as possible. Sometime before 9/11 at least one commercial destruction of a steel-frame building must have been quietly accomplished with nanothermite. Buildings are torn down by implosion all the time, so no one watching a thermite-based implosion would have necessarily noticed anything different. The perpetrators might even have added noisemakers to keep the visual and auditory effects as close to normal as possible.

The problem for the 9/11 terror play directors is this. The number of industrial steel-frame building implosions around the world in, say, the 12 months prior to 9/11 has to be a very small number. Also, that site (or sites) used for the test(s) would have (perhaps even today) a residue of iron microspheres- and nanothermite-laden dust that could still be detected. What exactly would it take to identify these building sites, collect dust from nearby, and analyse it for the presence of nanothermite and iron microspheres? Wouldn't this be new evidence that would be difficult to keep from a careful set of investigators?

Untested Rocket Propellent

Hi Pecosin Rat, I disagree with with part of your analysis. You used the term "Untested Rocket Propellent" - nanothermite is not untested as an explosive - it is highly tested as I pointed out in my first comment to this piece. It is ALSO tested as rocket propellent. The same basic technology for "energetic nanomaterials" is used for both explosives and rocket propellents.

As to your point about it not being a tested means of demolition, I agree entirely that whoever was in charge would not have used an untested method of demolition. (Hence we can rule out nukes and DEW!). But nanothermite would only be available to the military or perhaps certain contractors (Controlled Demolition Inc?). I remember reading somewhere that CD Inc did do a demolition on some water towers in NY in 2000/2001 timeframe - perhaps that was a test.

Also there are Government Agencies that could do such research... for example, SANDIA


From their website:

* Nuclear Weapons: Ensure a safe, secure, & reliable nuclear deterrent.
* Energy & Infrastructure Assurance: Ensure clean, abundant, & affordable energy and water.
* Nonproliferation: Reduce proliferation of weapons of mass destruction & threat of accidents.
* Defense Systems & Assessments: Help maintain U.S. military weapon-systems superiority.
* Homeland Security: Help protect our nation against terrorism through advanced technology.
* Science, Technology, & Engineering: Conduct R&D programs to support all national security missions.

Since NIST says noise is one of the main reasons why WTC7 could not be CD then who could have invented that excuse? It is standard practise to produce a noise abatement report for any controlled demolition in an urban environment. How could you reduce the noise of a Controlled Demolition? Well it just so happened that SANDIA released a report on August 2001 (from research conducted the previous year)....


Demolition Noise Abatement Technique Demonstration

Dated August 2001 (Experiements conducted in 2000).

"Public concern regarding the effects of noise generated by the detonation of excess and obsolete explosive munitions at U.S. Army demolition ranges is a continuing issue for the Army?s demilitarization and disposal groups. Recent concerns of citizens living near the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCAAP) in Oklahoma have lead the U.S. Army Defense Ammunition Center (DAC) to conduct a demonstration and evaluation of noise abatement techniques that could be applied to the MCAAP demolition range.

With the support of the DAC, MCAAP, and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), three types of noise abatement techniques were applied: aqueous foams, overburden (using combinations of sand beds and dirt coverings), and rubber or steel blast mats.

Eight test configurations were studied and twenty-four experiments were conducted on the MCAAP demolition range in July of 2000. Instrumentation and data acquisition systems were fielded for the collection of near-field blast pressures, far-field acoustic pressures, plant boundary seismic signals, and demolition range meteorological conditions. The resulting data has been analyzed and reported, and a ranking of each technique's effects has been provided to the DAC."

Of course, they could have included changing the explosive type from RDX to IH135...

Thanks for the Corrections

Ynda, Thanks for the corrections to my comment. I don't think the people who planned and carried out 9/11 (since they seem to be able to easily cross between government and private turfs) would have had trouble getting the nanothermite needed to test it's capabilities for controlled demolition no matter where it was manufactured. I'd guess that in the same spirit of preparation they would have been wise to let the people who were actually going to do the work fitting out the WTC for demolition be the ones to carry out the tests. And, now that I think about it, there had to be more than one test if only because there were so many things they were doing differently from a normal controlled demolition.

For example, they still had to control the demolition of the top portion of the towers after the planes crashed, after the resulting fires, and after the explosions that began the top pieces of the tower's movement toward the ground. If they tested for anything like the demolition of the WTC, they would need a mid-level explosion to mimic the crash of a plane. None of this would make the news anywhere, but there might be videos of demolitions on YouTube that give clues to possible sites to test for the presence of nanothermite.

Tests for the demolition of WTC towers

Hi Pecosin Rat, It might be interesting to know just how much testing they would need!

0. Brainstorming the whole plot and testing it against a range of specialists. There must have been a guiding hand behind the 9/11 demolitions. This plot must have been considered and reviewed for years. The cover story probably consumed more effort than the tower demolitions. Getting the right political cover over Whitehouse, intelligence agencies and DoD would be essential.

1. I don't think they could have relied upon the hijackers to do the hijacking and fly the planes successfully hence the um... "Terrorists" would have had to have perfected remote control of the aircraft. All 4 hijacking were on 767s - just how probable is that the hijackers all ended up coincidentally on the same aircraft type? Hence the demonstration of remote control of this aircraft would be required. This could have been done by a contractor with next to no knowledge of the true purpose of the tests.

2. Use of exotic materials for demolition (for example, nanothermite). This would require both a range of small scale lab tests and large scale tests upon real structures. This could possibly have been done by a contractor with next to no knowledge of the true purpose of the tests - although unlikely.

3. Arranging for the demolitions without the standard wiring and building weakening. This requires the use of remote control detonation devices - which needed to be shielded from fire and aircraft impact. This could have been done by a contractor with next to no knowledge of the true purpose of the tests.

4. Testing both exotic materials and remote control detonation together. This would require both a range of small scale lab tests and large scale tests upon real structures. This would have to be done by the "terrorists".

5. Feeding results of the above tests into computer models to plan for the WTC attacks. This would have to be done by the "terrorists".

I suspect that the plan on 9/11 went wrong... WTC7 should have collapsed at the same time as the north tower (which should have fallen first) but something went wrong. It could be that the south tower had to be blown early because the fireman had already reached the crash zone and found few fires. There was apparently an explosion in WTC7 at about the time of the south tower explosive collapse. Premature demolition? Anyway WTC7 was not blown up then and perhaps the minor explosion spoiled the synchronization with the north tower.

Anyway, I think that's enough for now...

Further thoughts

and a minor correction: Two 767 and two 757. There had to be milestones and compromizing of the agencies involved beforehand. I agree.

If you look closely, you can find such stuff: Like the withdrawal of Dr. Frederic Whitehurst from the FBI forensic lab after someone compromised the 1993 WTC truck bomb investigation. Hence, the FBI was compromised thenafter.

EA990, with a copilot allegedly commiting suicide, while his words were deliberatly misunderstood and leaked to the press and the plane maybe too was remotetly controlled.

TWA800, with bomb sniffing dogs founding something, the FBI NY antiterror filming the desaster from above and a terrorist, who according tp Peter Lance said just before he will bomb a plane and the animation by FBI and CIA to overcome eyewitness testimony.

So this was maybe a tested part of the plot, or overall tests for showing how big the lies can grow, you can tell the public and get away with it.

TriData/SPS would remain the first company to look at, besides SAIC, Securacom, etc.

Companies to look at...

"TriData/SPS would remain the first company to look at, besides SAIC, Securacom, etc."

Why TriData?

Also Ptech - James Corbett has details on Ptech on his podcast and website.

757 / 767

You're right. Sorry I thought they were all 767s. I've just seen a debunking document over at 9/1myths and trying to get details from that... it states though:

"757/767 Overview
The 757 and 767 are the first of the Boeing generation of "electronic jets". The 767 came out first in 1982, the 757 in 1983. These aircraft may look a bit different on the outside, but the flight decks and systems are nearly identical. For all intents and purposes, the systems I'll be describing below are the same for both aircraft with only minor differences. These airplanes have numerous built-in failsafes and are extremely redundant in their systems, thus would be difficult to commandeer remotely."

Difficult, yes. I agree...

In this article http://www.economist.com/node/1487553 - it states that airliners ALREADY fly automatically (in 2002) EXCEPT for take-off. So we could image an Operations Northwoods situation where aircaft take off and replaced by pre-programmed decoys in the "radar holes" discussed by shoestring et al (and the take-off pilots bailing out!?). It does get quite complicated but it is certainly do-able with no apparent additional development of remote control systems...

those skilled in the art

Speaking of 'tailorability and various potential military applications of explosives to particular circumstances"...... Reported from Damascus "The sources said the device was camouflaged to look like a dossier holding several papers. Explosives, in the shape of broad flat panels, were transported into the building successively and assembled there. They said that the person suspected of planting the explosives was one of the assistants to the head of the National Security Office Hisham Ikhtiyar. Intersecting information from Damascus indicated that he was arrested and was being interrogated. The rumors on the day of the attack suggesting it was a suicide bomber were false. The sources also indicated that the party responsible for the attack is not connected to any of the known armed Syrian opposition groups, or those who claimed responsibility for the operation. On the contrary, information point to the involvement of western and Israeli intelligence in recruitment, preparation, and execution."