9/11 Scholars Forum

Exposing Falsehoods and Revealing Truths

Kevin Ryan's Top 10 Connections Between NIST and Nano-Thermites



Kevin R. Ryan, 7-02-08

NIST did not test for the

residue of these compounds in the steel


NIST Responses to FAQs, August 2006

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has had considerable

difficulty determining a politically correct sequence of events for the unprecedented

destruction of three World Trade Center (WTC) buildings on 9/11 (Douglas 2006, Ryan

2006, Gourley 2007). But despite a number of variations in NIST’s story, it never

considered explosives or pyrotechnic materials in any of its hypotheses. This omission is at odds with several other striking facts; first, the requirement of the national standard for

fire investigation (NFPA 921), which calls for testing related to thermite and other

pyrotechnics, and second, the extensive experience NIST investigators have with

explosive and thermite materials.

One of the most intriguing aspects of NIST’s diversionary posture has been their total

lack of interest in explosive or pyrotechnic features in their explanations. Despite the

substantial evidence for the use of explosives at the WTC (Jones 2006, Legge and

Szamboti 2007), and the extensive expertise in explosives among NIST investigators

(Ryan 2007), explosives were never considered in the NIST WTC investigation. Only

after considerable criticism of this fact did NIST deign to add one small disclaimer to

their final report on the towers, suggesting they found no evidence for explosives.

The extensive evidence that explosives were used at the WTC includes witness testimony

(MacQueen 2006), overwhelming physical evidence (Griffin 2005, Hoffman et al 2005,

Jones and Legge et al 2008) and simple common sense (Legge 2007). There is also

substantial evidence that aluminothermic (thermite) materials were present at the WTC

(Jones 2007), and the presence of such materials can explain the existence of intense fire

where it would not otherwise have existed. Additionally, despite agreement from all

parties that the assumed availability of fuel allowed for the fires in any given location of

each of the WTC buildings to last only twenty minutes (NIST 2007), the fires lasted

much longer and produced extreme temperatures (Jones and Farrer et al 2008).

These inexplicable fires are a reminder that the WTC buildings were not simply

demolished, but were demolished in a deceptive way. That is, the buildings were brought

down so as to make it look like the impact of the planes and the resulting fires might have

caused their unprecedented, symmetrical destruction. Therefore, shaped charges and

other typical explosive configurations were likely used, but there was more to it than that.

Those committing the crimes needed to create fire where it would not have existed

otherwise, and draw attention toward the part of the buildings where the planes impacted

(or in the case of WTC 7, away from the building altogether).

This was most probably accomplished through the use of nano-thermites, which are hightech

energetic materials made by mixing ultra fine grain (UFG) aluminum and UFG

metal oxides; usually iron oxide, molybdenum oxide or copper oxide, although other

compounds can be used (Prakash 2005, Rai 2005). The mixing is accomplished by

adding these reactants to a liquid solution where they form what are called “sols”, and

then adding a gelling agent that captures these tiny reactive combinations in their

intimately mixed state (LLNL 2000). The resulting “sol-gel” is then dried to form a

porous reactive material that can be ignited in a number of ways.

The high surface area of the reactants within energetic sol-gels allows for the far higher

rate of energy release than is seen in “macro” thermite mixtures, making nano-thermites

high explosives” as well as pyrotechnic materials (Tillitson et al 1999). Sol-gel nanothermites, are often called energetic nanocomposites, metastable intermolecular




composites (MICs) or superthermite (COEM 2004, Son et al 2007), and silica is often

used to create the porous, structural framework (Clapsaddle et al 2004, Zhao et al 2004).

Nano-thermites have also been made with RDX (Pivkina et al 2004), and with

thermoplastic elastomers (Diaz et al 2003). But it is important to remember that, despite

the name, nano-thermites pack a much bigger punch than typical thermite materials.

It turns out that explosive, sol-gel nano-thermites were developed by US government

scientists, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL) (Tillitson et al 1998,

Gash et al 2000, Gash et al 2002). These LLNL scientists reported that --






The sol-gel process is very amenable to dip-, spin-, and spray-coating

technologies to coat surfaces. We have utilized this property to dip-coat various

substrates to make sol-gel Fe,O,/ Al / Viton coatings. The energetic coating dries

to give a nice adherent film. Preliminary experiments indicate that films of the

hybrid material are self-propagating when ignited by thermal stimulus

(Gash et al 2002).

The amazing correlation between floors of impact and floors of apparent failure suggests

that spray-on nano-thermite materials may have been applied to the steel components of

the WTC buildings, underneath the upgraded fireproofing (Ryan 2008). This could have

been done in such a way that very few people knew what was happening. The Port

Authority’s engineering consultant Buro Happold, helping with evaluation of the

fireproofing upgrades, suggested the use of “alternative materials” (NIST 2005). Such

alternative materials could have been spray-on nano-thermites substituted for intumescent

paint or Interchar-like fireproofing primers (NASA 2006). It seems quite possible that

this kind of substitution could have been made with few people noticing.

Regardless of how thermite materials were installed in the WTC, it is strange that NIST

has been so blind to any such possibility. In fact, when reading NIST’s reports on the

WTC, and its periodic responses to FAQs from the public, one might get the idea that no

one in the NIST organization had ever heard of nano-thermites before. But the truth is,

many of the scientists and organizations involved in the NIST WTC investigation were

not only well aware of nano-thermites, they actually had considerable connection to, and

in some cases expertise in, this exact technology.

Here are the top ten reasons why nano-thermites, and nano-thermite coatings, should

have come to mind quickly for the NIST WTC investigators.

1. NIST was working with LLNL to test and characterize these sol-gel nanothermites,

at least as early as 1999 (Tillitson et al 1999).

2. Forman Williams, the lead engineer on NIST’s advisory committee, and the most

prominent engineering expert for Popular Mechanics, is an expert on the

deflagration of energetic materials and the “ 

ignition of porous energetic

materials” (Margolis and Williams 1996, Telengator et al 1998, Margolis and

Williams 1999). Nano-thermites are porous energetic materials. Additionally,

Williams’ research partner, Stephen Margolis, has presented at conferences where

nano-energetics are the focus (Gordon 1999). Some of Williams’ other

colleagues at the University of California San Diego, like David J. Benson, are

also experts on nano-thermite materials (Choi et al 2005, Jordan et al 2007).

3. Science Applications International (SAIC) is the DOD and Homeland Security

contractor that supplied the largest contingent of non-governmental investigators

to the NIST WTC investigation. SAIC has extensive links to nano-thermites,

developing and judging nano-thermite research proposals for the military and

other military contractors, and developing and formulating nano-thermites

directly (Army 2008, DOD 2007). SAIC’s subsidiary Applied Ordnance

Technology has done research on the ignition of nanothermites with lasers

(Howard et al 2005).

In an interesting coincidence, SAIC was the firm that investigated the 1993 WTC

bombing, boasting that -- “After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, our blast

analyses produced tangible results that helped identify those responsibl 


2004).” And the coincidences with this company don’t stop there, as SAIC was

responsible for evaluating the WTC for terrorism risks in 1986 as well (CRHC

2008). SAIC is also linked to the late 1990s security upgrades at the WTC, the

Rudy Giuliani administration, and the anthrax incidents after 9/11, through former

employees Jerome Hauer and Steven Hatfill.

4. Arden Bement, the metallurgist and expert on fuels and materials who was

nominated as director of NIST by President George W. Bush in October 2001,

was former deputy secretary of defense, former director of DARPA’s office of

materials science, and former executive at TRW.

Of course, DOD and DARPA are both leaders in the production and use of nanothermites

(Amptiac 2002, DOD 2005). And military and aerospace contractor

TRW has had a long collaboration with NASA laboratories in the development of

energetic materials that are components of advanced propellants, like nano-gelled

explosive materials (NASA 2001). TRW Aeronautics also made fireproof

composites and high performance elastomer formulations, and worked with

NASA to make energetic aerogels.

Additionally, Bement was a professor at Purdue and MIT. Purdue has a thriving

program for nano-thermites (Son 2008). And interestingly, at MIT’s Institute for

Soldier Nanotechnology, we find Martin Z. Bazant, son of notable “conspiracy

debunker” Zdenek P. Bazant (MIT 2008), who does research on granular flows,

and the electrochemical interactions of silicon. Zdenek P. Bazant is interested in

nanocomposites as well (Northwestern 2008), and how they relate to naval

warfare (ONR 2008). MIT was represented at nano-energetics conferences as

early as 1998 (Gordon 1998).

Bement was also a director at both Battelle and the Lord Corporation. Battelle

(where the anthrax was made) is an organization of “experts in fundamental

technologies from the five National Laboratories we manage or co-manage for the

US DOE.” Battelle advertises their specialization in nanocomposite coatings

(Battelle 2008). The Lord Corporation also makes high-tech coatings for military

applications (Lord 2008). In 1999, Lord Corp was working with the Army and

NASA on “advanced polymer composites, advanced metals, and multifunctional


” (Army 1999).

5. Hratch Semerjian, long-time director of NIST’s chemical division, was promoted

to acting director of NIST in November 2004, and took over the WTC

investigation until the completion of the report on the towers. Semerjian is

closely linked to former NIST employee Michael Zachariah, perhaps the world’s

most prominent expert on nano-thermites (Zachariah 2008). In fact, Semerjian

and Zachariah co-authored ten papers that focus on nano-particles made of silica,

ceramics and refractory particles. Zachariah was a major player in the Defense

University Research Initiative on Nanotechnology (DURINT), a groundbreaking

research effort for nano-thermites.

6. NIST has a long-standing partnership with NASA for the development of new

nano-thermites and other nano-technological materials. In fact, Michael

Zachariah coordinates this partnership (CNMM 2008).

7. In 2003, two years before the NIST WTC report was issued, the University of

Maryland College Park (UMCP) and NIST signed a memorandum of

understanding to develop nano-technologies like nano-thermites (NIST 2003).

Together, NIST and UMCP have done much work on nano-thermites (NM


8. NIST has their own Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST 2008).

Additionally, NIST’s Reactive Flows Group did research on nanostructured

materials and high temperature reactions in the mid-nineties (NRFG 1996).

9. Richard Gann, who did the final editing of the NIST WTC report, managed a

project called “Next-Generation Fire Suppression Technology Program”, both

before and after 9/11. Andrzej Miziolek, another of the world’s leading experts

on nano-thermites (Amptiac 2002), is the author of “Defense Applications of

Nanomaterials”, and also worked on Richard Gann’s fire suppression project

(Gann 2002). Gann’s project was sponsored by DOD’s Strategic Environmental

Research and Development Program (SERDP), an organization that sponsored a

number of LLNL’s nano-thermite projects (Simpson 2002, Gash et al 2003).

10. As part of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer, NIST

partners with the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head (NSWC-IH) on

Chemical Science and Technology (FLCTT 2008). NSWC-IH is probably the

most prominent US center for nano-thermite technology (NSWC 2008). In 1999,

Jan Puszynski, a scientist working for the DURINT program, helped NSWC-IH

design a pilot plant to produce nano-size aluminum powder. It was reported that

At that time, this was [the] only reliable source of aluminum nanopowders in the

United States”

(SDSMT 2001), however, private companies like Argonide and

Technanogy were also known to have such capabilities.

Among an interesting group of contractors that NSWC-IH hired in 1999 were

SAIC, Applied Ordnance, Battelle, Booz Allen Hamilton, Mantech, Titan, Pacific

Scientific Energetic (see below), and R Stresau Laboratories for “



” (NSWC 2000).

A tragic coincidence left William Caswell, an employee of NSWC-IH, dead on

the plane said to have hit the Pentagon (Flight 77). He had for many years

worked on “


” projects at NSWC-IH (Leaf 2007).

The presence of Pacific Scientific Energetics (PSE) in this list of 1999 NSWC-IH

contractors is interesting because PSE was the parent company of Special Devices, Inc

(SDI). SDI specializes in explosives for defense, aerospace and mining applications, and

was acquired in 1998 by John Lehman, 9/11 Commissioner, member of the Project for a

New American Century, and former Secretary of the Navy (SDI 2008). Lehman divested

in 2001.

With this in mind, it is worthwhile to reiterate that nano-thermite materials were very

likely used in the deceptive demolition of the WTC buildings, but most certainly played

only a part in the plan. However, other high-tech explosives were available to those who

had access to nano-thermite materials at the time. Like SDI, several other organizations

with links to military, space and intelligence programs (e.g. In-Q-Tel, Orbital Science)

have access to many types of high-tech explosives to cut high-strength bolts and produce

pyrotechnic events (Goldstein 2006). These organizations also have connections to those

who could have accessed the buildings, like WTC tenant Marsh & McLennan and former

NASA administrator and Securacom director, James Abrahamson.

In any case, it is important for those seeking the truth about 9/11 to consider what

organizations and people had access to the technologies that were used to accomplish the

deceptive demolition of the WTC buildings. It is also important to recognize the links

between those who had access to the technologies, those who had access to the buildings,

and those who produced the clearly false official reports.

To that end we should note that NIST had considerable connections to nano-thermites,

both before and during the WTC investigation. It is therefore inexplicable why NIST did

not consider such materials as an explanation for the fires that burned on 9/11, and long

afterward at Ground Zero. This fact would not be inexplicable, of course, if those

managing the NIST investigation knew to not look, or test, for such materials.


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