9/11 Scholars Forum

Exposing Falsehoods and Revealing Truths


T Mark Hightower, B.S., M.S., Chemical Engineering


This paper explores the explosiveness of nanothermite.

Steven E. Jones made the error early in his research, of classifying nanothermite as an explosive in the same category as the high explosive RDX, with no published science to back up his claim. The 911 truth movement has never recovered from this error, for to this day nearly everyone in the movement refers to "explosive nanothermite," as even this clever cover for a fictitious "For Dummies" book illustrates. (1)

Examples of Jones confusing these issues are cited and commented upon. Two technical papers on nanothermite are cited to support my contention that nanothermite is not anywhere near being an explosive in the sense of a high explosive like RDX. These two papers are also cited on the issue of adding organics to nanothermites to produce gas generating nano-thermites (GGNT) and I maintain that these papers suggest that the only way to make a nanothermite truly explosive is to combine it with an explosive or other high-explosive mechanism. “It's not the “nano” that makes it explosive. It's the explosive that makes it explosive.”

Finally, I make recommendations of what those who advocate the nanothermite theory for WTC destruction can do to clarify their position and I announce The Nanothermite Challenge.


Here is a two-paragraph quote from Steven Jones' first paper. (2)

“Thus, molten metal was repeatedly observed and formally reported in the rubble piles of the WTC Towers and WTC 7, metal that looked like molten steel or perhaps iron. Scientific analysis would be needed to conclusively ascertain the composition of the molten metal in detail.”

“I maintain that these observations are consistent with the use of high-temperature cutter-charges such as thermite, HMX or RDX or some combination thereof, routinely used to melt/cut/demolish steel.” (2)

Here Jones puts thermite, HMX, and RDX in the same category. But thermite is totally different than HMX and RDX. Thermite is an incendiary. It gets very hot, it produces molten iron, it can melt steel, and it can catch things on fire, but it is absolutely not an explosive. It is not even a low explosive. On the other hand, HMX and RDX are high explosives. HMX detonates at 9,100 m/s (meters per second) and RDX detonates at 8,750 m/s. He also lumps all three under the category of cutter-charges, but a cutter-charge with thermite would be totally different than a cutter-charge with a high explosive. A thermite cutter-charge would cut by melting the steel with the high-temperature molten iron it produces (an extremely low velocity and slow process compared to high explosives), whereas an RDX cutter-charge would cut by the supersonic detonation of high explosives in what is known as a shaped charge, which essentially produces a supersonic projectile of molten metal (copper is often used in shaped charges) that instantly penetrates and severs the member.

Later in the paper Jones says

“"Superthermites" use tiny particles of aluminum known as "nanoaluminum" (<120 nanometers) in order to increase their reactivity. Explosive superthermites are formed by mixing nanoaluminum powder with fine metal oxide particles such as micron-scale iron oxide dust.” (2) And further down he says “Highly exothermic reactions other than jet-fuel or office-material fires, such as thermite reactions which produce white-hot molten metal as an end product, are clearly implied by the data. In addition, the use of explosives such as HMX or RDX should be considered. "Superthermites" are also explosive as must be remembered in any in-depth investigation which considers hypotheses suggested by the available data.” (2) From page 85 of a presentation that Jones gave early in his work (3), he says “Gel explosives: Tiny aluminum particles in iron oxide, in a sol-gel: “High energy density and extremely powerful” and “can be cast to shape”. http://www.llnl.gov/str/RSimpson.html (Livermore Nat’l Lab, 2000) I have read the LLNL web page that Jones cites above (4) very carefully and I cannot find anything in it that implies that the “thermitic nanocomposite energetic material” referred to is an explosive. It refers to the result as a thermite pyrotechnic, releasing an enormous amount of heat, but it does not say that it is an explosive. In the web page another class is explained briefly, energetic nanocrystalline composites. "The Livermore team synthesized nanocrystalline composites in a silica matrix with pores containing the high explosive RDX or PETN." No mention is made here of thermite, so this wouldn't apply to Jones claiming that nanothermite is an explosive.
WTC Devastation by public domain


The explanation given for claiming that nanothermite is an explosive goes something like this. The thermite reaction is

Fe2O3 + 2 Al ---> 2 Fe + Al2O3

By making the particle sizes of the reactants smaller, down to the nanosize (approximately 30 nm to 60 nm) and mixing them well, the reaction takes place so fast that it becomes explosive. Let's look at some data from technical papers where the reaction velocity of nanothermites were measured and compare these values with the reaction velocities of explosives to see if it seems reasonable to call nanothermite an explosive.

A paper by Spitzer et al. published in the Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids in 2010 presents a variety of research on energetic nano-materials. (5) In one section they deal with nano-thermites made with tungsten trioxide (WO3) and aluminum nano-particles. They experimented with different particle sizes, but they highlight the mixture made with the smallest nano-particles of both WO3 and Al for its impressive performance.

“WO3/Al nano-thermites, which contain only nano-particles, have an impressive reactivity. The fireball generated by the deflagration is so hot that a slamming due to overpressure is heard. The combustion rate can reach 7.3 m/s. This value is extremely high compared to classical energetic materials.” (5)

A paper by Clapsaddle et al. published by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2005 also contains some reaction rate data for nanothermite composed of nano-particles of Fe2O3 and aluminum. (6) In Figure 2. in the paper the combustion velocity is plotted versus percent SiO2 content. The highest values were obtained at zero percent SiO2, so those are the only values I am going to cite. The nanothermite produced by a sol gel process had the highest velocity of 40.5 m/s, compared to the one produced by a simple mixing of the nano-particles with a combustion velocity of 8.8 m/s. (6)

Compare the above combustion velocities of nanothermite with the detonation velocities of high explosives HMX and RDX of 9,100 m/s and 8,750 m/s, respectively, and they are dwarfed by the velocities of the conventional high explosives. Steven Jones appears to be calling the nanothermite reaction explosive only in the sense that it is reacting much faster than regular thermite, but not in the sense that it is anywhere near as explosive as a conventional high explosive. By failing to make this distinction Jones has misled nearly the entire 911 truth movement into believing that nanothermite is a super explosive, possibly even more powerful than conventional high explosives.

From the above, it is quite clear that the “nano” in nanothermite does not make the thermite explosive anywhere near the degree of a high explosive like RDX.

In addition to saying that nano-izing thermite makes it explosive, I have heard Jones say that adding organics to nanothermite also makes it explosive. This issue is explored in the next section.


First I would like to quote an entire two paragraph section, with its title, from the LLNL paper. (6)

“Gas generating Al-Fe2O3-SiO3/2-R (R = –(CH2)2(CF2)7CF3) nanocomposites. ”

“One limitation inherent in any thermite energetic material is the inability of the energetic material to do pressure/volume-work on an object. Thermites release energy in the form of heat and light, but are unable to move objects. Typically, work can be done by a rapidly produced gas that is released during the energetic reaction. Towards this end, the silica phase of sol-gel prepared oxidizers, in addition to modifying the burning velocities, has also been used to incorporate organic functionality that will decompose and generate gas upon ignition of the energetic composite [3-4, 7]. Phenomenological burn observations of these materials indicate that the Al-Fe2O3-SiO3/2-R nanocomposites burn very rapidly and violently, essentially to completion, with the generation of significant amounts of gas. Figure 5 shows a comparison of the ignition of an energetic nanocomposite oxidizer mixed with 2 μm aluminum metal without (left) and with (middle) organic functionalization. The still image of the energetic nanocomposite without organic functionalization exhibits rapid ignition and emission of light and heat. The still image of the energetic nanocomposite with organic functionalization also exhibits these characteristics, but it also exhibits hot particle ejection due to the production of gas upon ignition. This reaction is very exothermic and results in the production of very high temperatures, intense light, and pressure from the generation of the gaseous byproducts resulting from the decomposition of the organic moieties.”

“These materials were also mixed with nanometer aluminum. Figure 5 (right) shows a still image of the ignition of the Al-Fe2O3-SiO3/2-R nanocomposite mixed with 40 nm aluminum. This composite is much more reactive than the same oxidizing phase mixed with 2 μm aluminum metal; the burning of the composite with 40 nm aluminum occurs much too quickly to be able to observe the hot particle ejection. This observation is a good example of the importance mixing and the size scale of the reactants can have on the physical properties of the final energetic composite material. When the degree of mixing is on the nanoscale, the material is observed to react much more quickly, presumably due to the increase in mass transport rates of the reactants, as discussed above.” (6)

Note that in the title of the section quoted above, the symbol R is used to represent the organic functionality added to the nanothermite. In this case it is a 10 carbon atom straight chain functional group fully saturated, with hydrogen atoms on the first two carbon atoms of the chain and fluorine atoms on all the rest. I have not explored the precise energy level of this functional group, but I can tell by just looking at it that it will consume energy (from the thermite reaction) in order to break it down into multiple smaller molecules in order to get the expanding gases necessary to make it behave as explained. This is not an efficient way to make an explosive. I wouldn't expect the explosiveness to be anywhere near that of a conventional high explosive, and the qualitative description given in the paper certainly does not seem to support it being a true explosive, but unfortunately the paper does not give data on what its reaction rate would be. Wouldn't it be better if the organic added to the nanothermite was a molecule that, instead of consuming energy to drive its decomposition, actually produces energy as it decomposes? Such a molecule could be the RDX molecule. This leads to the quoted two-paragraph section below from the Spitzer et al. paper. (5)

“3. Gas generating nano-thermites ”

“Thermites are energetic materials, which do not release gaseous species when they decompose. However, explosives can be blended in thermites to give them blasting properties. The idea developed at ISL is to solidify explosives in porous inorganic matrixes described previously. Gas generating nano-thermites (GGNT) are prepared by mixing Cr2O3/RDX and MnO2/RDX materials with aluminium nano-particles. The combustion mechanisms of these nano-thermites were investigated by DSC and high-speed video. In the case of Cr2O3-based GGNT, the decomposition of RDX induces the expansion and the fragmentation of the oxide matrix. The resulting Cr2O3 nano-particles, which are preheated by the combustion of the explosive, react violently with aluminium nano-particles. In the case of MnO2-based GGNT, the mechanism of combustion is somewhat different because the decomposition of RDX induces the melting of oxide particles. The droplets of molten MnO2 react with aluminium nano-particles.”

“The non-confined combustion of GGNT is rather slow (1-11 cm/s) in comparison with other nano-thermites presented here. However, in a confined environment their combustion rate is expected to be significantly higher. Indeed, the thermal decomposition of GGNT produces gaseous species, which contribute to increase the pressure and the combustion rate in accordance with the Vieille’s law. The thermal decomposition of miscellaneous GGNT compositions was studied in a closed vessel equipped with a pressure gauge. The GGNT were fired with a laser beam through a quartz window. The pressure signal was recorded along time for each material (Fig. 7). The pressure released by the combustion of a GGNT is directly linked to the RDX content of the nano-composite used to elaborate it. Depending on its formulation, a GGNT can provide a pressure ranging from a few bars to nearly three thousand bars.” (5)

I am surprised by the low number given for the reaction velocity, only 1-11 cm/s. Also, it does not say what percent RDX resulted in this low velocity. Maybe it was a very low content of RDX. But the main point I want to make about the above quoted section does not depend on this velocity anyway. The key point is that you have to blend explosives (like RDX) into nanothermite to make it an explosive (“give them blasting properties”).


Steven E. Jones and other nanothermite theory advocates should be upfront and truthful about these issues, and clearly elaborate upon the factors missing from their theory that need further fleshing out. It is not good enough to just say “explosive nanothermite” over and over again without explaining exactly what is meant by the term. If they think that incendiary thermite or incendiary nanothermite or low explosive nanothermite or high explosive nanothermite were used in cutter-charges, or some combination, then they should say so. The lack of or degree of explosiveness claimed, whether incendiary, low explosive, or high explosive, is key, because the type of cutter-charge used would depend on this. Once they clarify what they mean by their use of the term “nanothermite”, then they should start describing the quantities of thermite that would have been necessary for the destruction. Only by adding these details to their theory can it be fairly evaluated against alternative theories of the destruction of the buildings of the World Trade Center for the benefit of the wider 9/11 truth community.


Find and document peer reviewed scientific research that demonstrates that a gas generating nanothermite (GGNT) based upon iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3) and aluminum (Al), where the gas generating chemical added to the nanothermite is not itself a high explosive, can be made to be a high explosive with at least a detonation velocity of 2000 m/s. The author of this paper will donate $100 for every 1000 m/s of detonation velocity that can be documented, the donation not to exceed $1,000. For example, if a detonation velocity of 5500 m/s can be documented, then the donation amount will be $550. Only one prize will be awarded in the form of a donation to AE911Truth, and it will be awarded based upon the highest detonation velocity that can be documented. Those submitting entries grant the author the right to publish their entries. Entries must be in the form of a brief (no longer than one page) write-up, with the peer reviewed research cited, and at least scanned copies (electronic pdf files) of the cover page(s) and pages relied upon of the technical papers, if not a submittal of the entire paper(s). Entries should be sent by email to DetonationVelocity@att.net by June 20, 2011. The award will be announced and paid by July 20, 2011.

1 May 2011

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: T. Mark Hightower began his awakening in January 2004 after having stumbled upon the Serendipity web site and learning that the explosive demolition theory for WTC destruction was a more probable explanation than was the official story.


He has worked as an engineer for nearly 30 years, initially in the chemical industry, then in the space program, and currently in the environmental field. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

His research on 9/11 is an exercise of his Constitutional rights as a private citizen and in no way represents his employer or the professional societies of which he is a member.


(1) Fictitious Book Cover, “Explosives in the WTC for Dummies”

(2) Jones, Steven E., “Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Completely Collapse?” Journal of 911 Studies, Volume 3, September 2006

(3) Jones, Steven E., “Answers to Objections and Questions,” Department of Physics and Astronomy, Brigham Young University, 18 July 2006

(4) LLNL Web page cited by Jones – “Nanoscale Chemistry Yields Better Explosives,”


(5) Denis Spitzer, Marc Comet, Christian Baras, Vincent Pichot, Nelly Piazzon, “Energetic nano-materials: Opportunities for enhanced performances,” Institut franco-allemand de recherches de Saint-Louis (ISL), UMR ISL/CNRS 3208, 5, rue du General Cassagnou, 68301 Saint-Louis, France,
Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids 71 (2010) 100–108

(6) B. J. Clapsaddle, L. Zhao, D. Prentice, M. L. Pantoya, A. E. Gash, J. H. Satcher Jr., K. J. Shea, R. L. Simpson, “Formulation and Performance of Novel Energetic Nanocomposites and Gas Generators Prepared by Sol-Gel Methods,” March 25, 2005, Presented at 36th Annual Conference of ICT, Karlsruhe, Germany, June 28, 2005 through July 1, 2005 UCRL-PROC-210871, LLNL This paper is free to download at

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Welcome to the forum Mr. Hightower. It is great to have your participation. Can you post the material you provided at the conference? As you know your paper is posted at the beginning of this thread.


You may be interested in another related thread "Were Mini Nukes used to bring down the WTC" http://911scholars.ning.com/photo/were-mini-nukes-used-to-bring?xg_... your comments to Victor Thorn were posted as well after which several of us posted comments.

Below I have pasted the two page document I made available at Conspiracy Con, June 4-5.







This group supports unrestrained inquiry and sound science in all areas of 911 research, with a special focus upon the evidence and its interpretation for nanothermitic material found in WTC dust samples. It is of the utmost importance to have solid scientific evidence to present in the event of a future investigation.


We encourage open dialogue between all groups in the 911 truth community, including between those who currently embrace the explosive nanothermite theory and those who do not. Membership is open to all who seek the truth, not just architects and engineers.



In April 2009 the paper “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade

Center Catastrophe ” by Harrit et al. came out.


The authors of this paper did not have enough confidence in their research results to say that the red layer of the chips they found were definitely an explosive, so they said it was found to be a “highly energetic pyrotechnic OR explosive material.” (emphasis added)


Yet this article from AE911Truth of the same month as the Harrit et al. paper was released says, "A ground-breaking scientific paper confirmed this week that red-gray flakes found throughout multiple samples of WTC dust are actually unexploded fragments of nanothermite, an exotic high-tech explosive." http://www2.ae911truth.org/info/51 In the same article they add a further exaggeration that nanothermite can be formulated as a high explosive. "Ordinary thermite burns quickly and can melt through steel, but it is not explosive. Nanothermite, however, can be formulated as a high explosive." Common examples of high explosives are TNT, HMX, and RDX.


Although it is not clear who exactly wrote this description of the Harrit et al. paper on the SRIBD site, it reflects the exaggeration of the findings of the paper that is so common and encouraged by nanothermite advocates. “The famous and historic international research paper that fully confirms the existence of highly-explosive, military-grade Nano-thermite residual within the dust from the debris of the WTC demoliti...” http://www.scribd.com/tag/richard%20gage


It is interesting to note that the extensive article in the Rock Creek Free Press of May 2009 was more reserved in its view of the potential explosiveness of nanothermite. Quoting from page 5, lower left corner, of the Rock Creek Free Press article.


"By creating particles of iron oxide and aluminum thousands of times smaller than normal thermite, much smaller than can be achieved with simple grinding techniques, and intimately mixing and binding them together, the reaction speed can be dramaticaly increased. The increased rate of reaction makes these super-thermites potentially explosive, but to be actually explosive some ingredient must be added to the formulation to produce gas as a reaction product. It is the rapid expansion of hot gases that does the work of an explosion. To be a high explosive the reaction speed must exceed the speed of sound in the material, which is unlikely in the case of thermitic materials but nano-thermitic material may act as a low explosive, in a manner similar to gun powder."


MY MAY 1, 2011 PAPER

I released a paper challenging nanothermite orthodoxy entitled “How indeed can nanothermite be explosive?” on May 1, 2011. I made sure to direct the attention of Richard Gage, Steven Jones, and others in the nanothermite camp to this paper. I ended up having some exchanges with Frank Legge, one of the co-authors of the Harrit et al. paper via Facebook. To his credit he is at least willing to engage in dialogue on the topic, although he thinks that I am either a shill or just someone who is trying to be clever. He thinks that it is OK to use the word “explosive” to describe what they found in the dust, since everybody uses the term. Steven Jones responded not to my paper directly, but to a subsequent email I sent to Kevin Ryan and many others in response to Kevin Ryan's email to me criticizing my paper and attacking me. Jones response was a post on 911 blogger.


Below I have pasted 3 sections from Jones 911 blogger reply.




“Where is the line between low explosives and high explosives? Rather than getting mired into ad nauseum debates, I will use the term 'explosive' in conjunction with superthermites/nanothermites IF the national defense laboratories which developed these materials use the term. Here we go.”


“Recent experiments by Jon Cole demonstrate that thermite with sulfur added ('thermate') can indeed cut through steel and do pressure-volume work; sulfur makes a huge difference (as I also pointed out in my first 9/11-research paper)! Very exciting work, especially starting around the 11-minute mark:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qamecech9m4


“4. Do you agree that “ Jones is putting 'superthermite' in the same category of explosiveness as HMX and RDX” as claimed by Mark Hightower? (Email to Jones and numerous others from Mark Hightower, 8 May 2011).”


“No, I do not. While the Los Alamos developers note that superthermite can be tailored for use in 'explosive devices' as cited above, specifics are not given, evidently because of 'military' applications.”


With Jones' very loose use of the word explosive, he implies that even Jon Cole's experiments with ordinary thermite (thermate) would fall within the meaning of the word explosive, because it cut through steel and did pressure volume work. Clearly Jones is stretching the meaning of pressure-volume work to an absurdly low level as a characteristic of an explosive in order to make his point. I leave it to the reader to do a google search to find how many nouns that the adjective “explosive” is commonly used to modify. I will simply cite one example I had the misfortune of becoming familiar with recently, “explosive diarrhea,” which clearly does pressure-volume work.



T. Mark Hightower

Conspiracy Con 2011

June 4-5

Tom Sullivan - Explosives Technician -- Loader



Tom Sullivan - Former Explosives Loader for Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI)
Tom discusses the complex process of preparing a building for controlled demolition and sites the reasons why WTC building 7 had to have been a controlled demolition.
Tag: This is raw footage from one of the experts appearing in our upcoming, hard-hitting documentary on the evidence for the destruction of the 3 World Trade Center skyscrapers.
"9/11: Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out"


Listen to an expert. I suggest that all of you work for Witch Ann Cappelletti, Barbara Bush's 1/2 sister, GWB sorceror witch aunt, who runs the groups of paid posters. No one pays attention to what you have to say. Everyone knows 911 was an INSIDE JOB.


You pretend that anyone cares about what you have to say, but no one does.

Here is an email that I just sent to Dr. Paul Craig Roberts regarding his references in his recent article. "Conspiracy Theory", to the Dr. Niels Harrit study regarding nano-termite.   If I hear back from Dr. Roberts, highly unlikely, I will report it here.



Dear Dr. Roberts


I appreciate your article "Conspiracy Theory" of June 20, 2011.


However, in one area of your article, you seem to be further muddying the waters as to truth, facts, and careful scientific research, as I believe is what has been accomplished also by Dr. Niels Harrit and Dr. Steven Jones.


Quoting from your article...



University of Copenhagen nano-chemist Niels Harrit who reports finding unreacted nano-thermite in dust samples from the WTC towers, anyone who is convinced by experts instead of by propaganda is dismissed as a kook.




Indeed, a writer or newscaster is not even permitted to report the findings of 9/11 skeptics.  In other words, simply to report Professor Harrit’s findings now means that you endorse them or agree with them.  Everyone in the US print and TV media knows that he/she will be instantly fired if they report Harrit’s findings, even with a laugh. Thus, although Harrit has reported his findings on European television and has lectured widely on his findings in Canadian universities, the fact that he and the international scientific research team that he led found unreacted nano-thermite in the WTC dust and have offered samples to other scientists to examine has to my knowledge never been reported in the American media.

Even Internet sites on which I am among the readers’ favorites will not allow me to report on Harrit’s findings."


OK, Dr. Roberts, I will accept, for the sake of argument only, that Dr. Harrit and his “international scientific research team” are honest researchers who did do a legitimate research study and did report their findings truthfully.

I would point out to you that Professor Harrit in his study never defined what “nano-thermite” is or what its properties and capabilities are.  Apparently there are different formulations of “nano-thermite” and many of them are “exotic”, top secret formulations of our national military defense laboratories.  Exactly what kind of “unreacted nano-thermite” Dr. Harrit discovered in the World Trade Center dust is not defined for us.  However their study does make references to “superthermite” and makes constant references to it being “explosive.”

In fact, Dr. Steven Jones and his team member, Dr. Niels Harrit appear strongly to desire for their readers to put “superthermite in the same category of explosiveness as HMX and RDX.   

Dr. Roberts, I suggest you do a little more truth seeking in regard to Professor Harrit’s and Dr. Steven Jones’, et al. studies.  This article by Mark T. Hightower, Masters chemical engineer, would be a good place to start.


Has nanothermite been oversold to the 9/11 Truth community?

Dr. Steven Jones, Dr. Harrit’s “team member”, has consistently maintained in radio interviews that his “theory” does not rule out the use of and the presence of other “explosives”, in addition to what he has identified over the years by various names, most recently as “nano-thermite” or “super-thermite.  Dr. James Fetzer was prompted to comment “For thermite to be explosive, it has to be combined with explosives, where the same could be said of toothpaste. “

So we are never given a clue by the good doctors what their finding of “unreacted nano-thermite” could or would mean.  They are not saying that the presence of this substance means that the substance was what was exclusively used to destroy the towers.  In fact, they are not even saying that this substance could have had the capability to function as a high explosive.  They are not even telling us what minimal job or function, if any at all,  the “nano-thermite” may have performed in the destruction of the towers.  To me, Dr. Harrit’s study is much ado about nothing, since it does not appear to be saying much of anything. It does, however, keep everyone distracted and diverted and deceived from pursuing and publishing quality facts and truth toward exposing the inside job that was 9-11.  


Ms. Jeannon Kralj



Thanks for the above Jeanon.

Well said.

I have wanted to write to Dr. Roberts about several matters but never knew how to contact him. From what I know of him I think he would be very interested in learning more about Jones, Harrit et al. and their various/changing claims. He may not have tumbled to the fact yet that they could be involved in coordinated disinformation activities. Roberts should actually be invited to be a member of this forum. It would help bring him up to speed on the Thermite/nanothermite faux explosive capability ruse.
Roberts should be directed to study the data which strongly implies that nuclear (fission) explosions were part of the destruction of the Twin Towers. That to me is the much more (perhaps the most) important issue.


Kevin Ryan on explosive nanothermite.


On June 20, 2011, Kevin Ryan submitted an article on 911 blogger entitled “The explosive nature of nanothermite.” In the comments, Frank Legge posted “An open letter to T Mark Hightower.”


In Kevin Ryan's article he tries to make the case that nanothermite is
really explosive.  Most of the references he gives are rather vague in
that they may use the word "explosive" but they don't give the
detonation velocity of a specifically identified nanothermite.  None of
his references would have been adequate to meet The Nanothermite
Challenge.  Actually, to be fair, he has one reference that is kind of
borderline, as it refers to "generating shock waves with Mach numbers up
to 3."


From the above link you can only read the Abstract of the paper.  This
is a paper that I was already familiar with, and I had paid $41 to
download the complete 3 page paper.  I was able to verify that it does
not meet The Nanothermite Challenge.  Interestingly, even though it
cites an enhanced combustion wave speed of up to 2200 m/s for a CuO
nanorod Al nanoparticle self assembled composite, the paper actually
supports my contention that a nanothermite cannot possibly achieve a
detonation velocity anywhere near that of conventional high explosives
like TNT, RDX, and HMX, with detonation velocities of 6900 m/s, 8750
m/s, and 9100 m/s, respectively. Quoting from the paper, but omitting a
lengthy parenthesis with a lot of references to conventional explosives
and their detonation velocities, it says, "Interestingly, these higher
combustion wave speeds are comparable to the lower end values of the
detonation velocities for explosives."

If you scroll down about half way on the previously cited 911 blogger
web page, you will see "An open letter to T Mark Hightower" that was
submitted by Frank Legge.  It turns out this comes from a Facebook
interchange that Frank legge and I had some weeks ago.  Why didn't Frank
Legge post my response to him? (I will paste it below) The readers might get both sides of the
argument if he did that.

Anyway, Frank Legge kind of gives away the game when he says, "You say
your offer of $1000 is generous. It is not. You know that the highest
propagation velocities in the literature are less than your cut-off

So please let me explain.  You have Kevin Ryan making a strong
qualitative case for the significant explosiveness of nanothermite, but
then you have Frank Legge telling me that The Nanothermite Challenge is
not possible to meet because I have set the cut-off detonation velocity
too high at 2000 meters per second.  But a detonation velocity of 2000
m/s is about as low as you can go and still be considered a high
explosive.  So in effect, you have Frank Legge admitting here that he
believes there is no peer reviewed scientific research which supports a
high explosive nanothermite.

So why does AE911Truth insist on claiming that nanothermite can be
formulated as a high explosive?  And suppose it could be formulated with
a detonation velocity at the low end of a high explosive, like 2200 m/s,
to use the value from the above cited paper, would that be impressive for
its destructive power?  No, not at all, when you consider how much
higher the detonation velocities are for the conventional high


May 15, 2011

To Frank Legge,

You question the fairness of my offer in The Nanothermite Challenge. AE911Truth said in an editorial article of April 5, 2009 that nanothermite “can be formulated as a high explosive.”

If their statement were true, then someone should be able to document that and claim my prize. I set the cut off at a detonation velocity of 2000 m/s, which is a very low value for a high explosive.

You apparently missed this quote from Jones' first paper that I cited in my paper showing that Jones clearly put nanothermite in the same category of explosive as the high explosive RDX.

“Highly exothermic reactions other than jet-fuel or office-material fires, such as thermite reactions which produce white-hot molten metal as an end product, are clearly implied by the data. In addition, the use of explosives such as HMX or RDX should be considered. 'Superthermites' are also explosive as must be remembered in any in-depth investigation which considers hypotheses suggested by the available data.”

Clearly, if I may paraphrase, Jones is saying that superthermites are also explosive as are HMX and RDX. If he only meant that superthermites are low explosives then his statement is misleading. His statement should then have said something like this, to get his idea across more clearly. “Unlike HMX and RDX, superthermites are low explosives, as must be remembered in any in-depth investigation which considers hypotheses suggested by the available data.”

You said of me and my paper, “You are trying to get your reader to think about the intensity of a nanothermite explosion.” You are absolutely correct here. When it is claimed over and over again that “explosive nanothermite” was used, what could be more important than considering the intensity of the explosiveness? A cutter charge using an incendiary or low explosive would have to be crafted much differently than a cutter charge using a high explosive. Being noncommittal to addressing these issues hurts the credibility of AE911Truth's position.

There is much in my paper that you have not commented upon. Does that mean that you agree with those parts, or can't find anything to criticize? Of course this is what people do, they try to find any areas of weakness that they can criticize, but fail to say what they agree with or what they can't find fault with.

You criticize the use of the term “finely granulated form of thermite” as a description of nanothermite. If I had your comment before finalizing the paper I might have worded this differently. I would just like to point out that the sol gel process is not the only means of producing a nanothermite, as the Clapsaddle et al. paper that I reference indicates that mechanical mixing can also be used. I quote from this paper below.

“The goal of this work is to examine the influence of SiO2 on the energy release properties of the Fe2O3–Al thermite reaction. This objective was accomplished by comparing the combustion velocities of two separate Fe2O3-SiO2–Al nanocomposites: one prepared from mixing commercially obtained nanoparticles of Fe2O3, SiO2, and Al (Thermite A); and, the other prepared by combining nanoparticles of Al with the sol-gel prepared, Fe2O3-SiO2 aerogel oxidizers described above (Thermite B).”

Your point about the use of the word pulverize is well taken. If I had your comments before finalizing the paper I likely would have worded this differently. I will just say that I was not using this term in the sense of pulverizing all the steel, but only in the sense of pulverizing the steel where it was cut, for example as by the effects of a high explosive.

Finally, where you charge me with deliberately trying to deceive, you are wrong in your assessment of my motivations. I am a petition signer at Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, and I want to see that the claims that they make are as solid as they can possibly be. I have tried pointing out these things to the big wheels in the nanothermite camp since last August, but I finally felt it necessary to write a paper to gets my points across, since they were not addressing my concerns.

AE911Truth can't have it both ways, freely criticizing those they do not agree with, and failing to respond to valid criticisms against their position. If they say that nanothermite can be formulated as a high explosive, is it too much to ask that they document their claim? Are they somehow above such criticisms and questions?

I lay these issues out before all to judge for themselves.

T Mark Hightower

June 22, 2011 Press Release


No Contenders for The Nanothermite Challenge
On May 1, 2011 chemical engineer and AE911Truth petition signer T.
Mark Hightower of San Jose, CA presented The Nanothermite Challenge,
calling for peer-reviewed scientific documentation that nanothermite
could be "formulated as a high explosive." This claim was made in
April 2009 by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a growing group
of professionals calling for a new, independent 9/11 investigation,
in part based on the research of physicist Steven Jones.

The Nanothermite Challenge: "Find and document peer-reviewed
scientific research that demonstrates that a gas-generating
nanothermite (GGNT) based upon iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3) and aluminum
(Al), where the gas-generating chemical added to the nanothermite is
not itself a high explosive, can be made to be a high explosive with
at least a detonation velocity of 2000 m/s. The author of this paper
will donate $100 for every 1000 m/s of detonation velocity that can
be documented, the donation not to exceed $1,000."

The deadline of June 20 for The Nanothermite Challenge passed with no
entries received. On June 19, 2011, retired NASA executive and
AE911Truth petition signer Dwain Deets stated, "What I would like to
see is AE911Truth retract their claim, as well as any other 911Truth
advocates who now make this claim. It would be great to see the
documented research come forward in the manner outlined in The
Nanothermite Challenge before the 10th Anniversary, so those who make
these claims can do so with a solid basis."

This is good information, but as you say, it should have also all been posted at 911blogger.  911blogger has been a bad joke for a long time. 


Here is a posting on 911 blogger that explains how BYU fully supported Jones and his "work".  Very odd that Neocon U. was so involved and supportive of the work of Dr. Jones since the story at the time by Dr. Jones was that he was forced out and forced into early retirement because of his studies that supposedly were against the official story and the Bush administration.






Here is a discussion of how Dr. Jones is now talking about Tesla and building destruction, so somehow not Dr. Wood and Dr. Jones are synthesizing.  For what purpose, I do not know.  But the tenth anniversary of 9-11 is upon us and no way this time will not be used by those involved in further 9-11 disinformation.


Steven Jones Continues to Demo Truth Movement

by Scott Creighton

UPDATE: A note to the remaining Truth advocates at 9/11 Blogger (see the end of the article)



Here is a discussion of how Dr. Jones is now talking about Tesla and building destruction, so somehow not Dr. Wood and Dr. Jones are synthesizing.  For what purpose, I do not know.  But the tenth anniversary of 9-11 is upon us and no way this time will not be used by those involved in further 9-11 disinformation.


yes, this is weird.  Steve Jones stubbornly maintains thermate did the whole job, I don't get it, thermate is a steel cutter, he is probably disinfo.

Dr. Wood stubbornly maintains that DEWs were involved, why since Chuck has shown that all her objections can be explained much simpler.


It's like these people are living in their own realities and the effect is to divert the public's attention from the real truth of 911.  It's like in JFK they made a fake Z film to give a totally wrong series of events.

I think Mark Hightower has conducted himself ethically and has acted in good faith with respect to the investigation of whether thermite/nanothermite is a high explosive agent. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for some of his detractors. 


In my view Mark has amply demonstrated that Thermite/nanothermite is not a high explosive in the category of RDX, HMX or PETN—no one met the nanothermite challenge or even attempted to. It is almost immaterial whether Thermite/nanothermite was used in some secondary or tertiary capacity as an adjunct to much more powerful agents. There is simply too much evidence which demonstrates that both Twin Towers were totally destroyed as a result of enormous explosive energy releases completely unlike the standard implosion type controlled demolitions seen in the intentional destruction of high-rise buildings; a difference in type or kind not just in degree.


No one to my knowledge has produced an example of a high-rise demolition (controlled or otherwise) in which so much of the building's mass was converted to dust. That remains the elephant in the room. What mechanism is capable of performing that kind of work?  Even if it is assumed that an astronomical amount of conventional (RDX, HMX, PETN etc.) explosives were utilized to destroy each Twin Tower, there is no historical precedent for so much of a high rise building’s concrete being literally pulverized into fine dust.


Perhaps Mark or some other chemical or demolition engineer with the requisite expertise could perform the calculation for us of how many tons of conventional explosive would be required to completely destroy the Twin Towers—for completeness sake this calculation should be produced. Presumably the amount involved would be incompatible with clandestine placement inside each building without being discovered.


It seems to me in light of everything that is now known, anyone who still wants to talk about thermite/nanothermite as the only or main agent involved in the destruction of the Twin Towers must be assumed to be an agent of disinformation. The real story is the strong likelihood that each Twin Tower was destroyed either through the use of nuclear (fission type) explosions or some kind of classified DFEW technology. I currently favor the former for multiple reasons. In any case, this is where the discussion needs to go. If those who favor a nuclear fission induced destruction scenario are correct, there are literally tens of thousands of people who are at risk for developing lethal cancers and other significant disabilities. It is vital that they be apprised of the risks that they face. Further discussion of thermite/nanothermite is unlikely to result in that end.


Today I was on Jim Fetzer's show, The Real Deal.  I presented my work which also included calculations for quantities of conventional high explosives that would have been needed to do the job.  I clearly state the assumptions made for the calculations.  I believe that Jim told me the show may not be archived until about next Monday at http://radiofetzer.blogspot.com/

I had a Power Point presentation for the show, which I have uploaded below.  During the show I verbally refuted all 10 citations in Kevin Ryan's article "The explosive nature of nanothermite," which he had posted on 911blogger on June 20, the day The Nanothermite Challenge ended with no entries.


All of my files are available on my scribd web page http://www.scribd.com/tmhightower


Great Mark. I reviewed your power point presentation and found it very interesting.  I can't wait to listen to your interview with Dr. Fetzer. 


If I understand you correctly, you estimate that roughly 840,000 pounds of RDX would have been required to destroy one Twin Tower without reducing all of the concrete to dust. You are saying if I understand it correctly, that much more than that would have been required to turn all of the concrete to dust if it is possible at all with conventional explosives since your calculations did not assume the concrete was pulverized into dust powder. Do I have that correct?


Are you saying that the observed explosive energy release up and out away from each Tower could have been caused by that amount of RDX or would it have required more since in a normal controlled (implosion type) demolition, this hurling of material up and out does not occur?  I find it hard to believe that 850,000 pounds of RDX could have caused such explosive energy.


As I understand your material, you believe that even a high explosive type nanothermite in the 850 m/s range could not have accomplished the observed destruction even if the larger amount of nanothermite (assuming an R.E. of 2.7 yields over 2, 295,000 pounds of nanothermite per Tower) was utilized.


I think you have provided strong evidence that nanothermite was to a high degree of probability not involved a conclusion which agrees with the problems related to the chain of custody issues vis a vis the dust sample collection utilized in the Harrit et. al study.


Thank you for your excellent work.

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