Ammonium perchlorate ("AP") is an inorganic compound with the formula NH4ClO4. It is a colorless or white solid that is soluble in water. It is a powerful oxidizer. Combined with a fuel, it can be used as a rocket propellant. Its instability has involved it in a number of accidents, such as the PEPCON disaster.
3D model (JSmol)
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
|Molar mass||117.49 g/mol|
|Melting point||Exothermic decomposition before melting at >200 °C|
|11.56 g/100 mL (0 °C) |
20.85 g/100 mL (20 °C)
57.01 g/100 mL (100 °C)
|Solubility||Soluble in Methanol |
partially soluble in Acetone
insoluble in Ether
|Orthorhombic (< 513 K)|
Cubic (> 513 K)
|Safety data sheet||External MSDS|
|GHS Signal word||Danger|
|H201, H271, H319, H373|
|P210, P220, P221, P230, P240, P250, P260, P264, P280, P283, P305+351+338, P306+360, P314, P337+313, P370+378, P370+380, P371+380+375, P372, P373, P401, P501|
|NFPA 704 (fire diamond)|
|240 °C (464 °F; 513 K)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Ammonium perchlorate (AP) is produced by reaction between ammonia and perchloric acid. This process is the main outlet for the industrial production of perchloric acid. The salt also can be produced by salt metathesis reaction of ammonium salts with sodium perchlorate. This process exploits the relatively low solubility of NH4ClO4, which is about 10% of that for sodium perchlorate.
AP crystallises as colorless rhombohedra.
Like most ammonium salts, ammonium perchlorate decomposes before melting. Mild heating results in production of hydrogen chloride, nitrogen, oxygen, and water.
- 4 NH4ClO4 → 4 HCl + 2 N2 + 5 O2 + 6 H2O
The combustion of AP is quite complex and is widely studied. AP crystals decompose before melting, even though a thin liquid layer has been observed on crystal surfaces during high-pressure combustion processes. Strong heating may lead to explosions. Complete reactions leave no residue. Pure crystals cannot sustain a flame below the pressure of 2 MPa.
The primary use of ammonium perchlorate is in making solid fuel propellants. When AP is mixed with a fuel (like a powdered aluminium and/or with an elastomeric binder), it can generate self-sustained combustion at far under atmospheric pressure. It is an important oxidizer with a decades-long history of use in solid rocket propellants — space launch (including the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster), military, amateur, and hobby high-power rockets, as well as in some fireworks.
Some "breakable" epoxy adhesives contain suspensions of AP. Upon heating to 300 °C, the AP degrades the organic adhesive, breaking the cemented joint.
Perchlorate itself confers little acute toxicity. For example, sodium perchlorate has an LD50 of 2-4 g/kg and is eliminated rapidly after ingestion. However, chronic exposure to perchlorates, even in low concentrations, has been shown to cause various thyroid problems, as it is taken up in place of iodine.
- MSDS. sigmaaldrich.com. Page 3, 9.1 (a)
- Liu, L.; Li, F.; Tan, L.; Ming, L.; Yi, Y. (2004), "Effects of Nanometer Ni, Cu, Al and NiCu Powders on the Thermal Decomposition of Ammonium Perchlorate", Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, 29: 34–38, doi:10.1002/prep.200400026
- Ammonium perchlorate MSDS. Sigma-Aldrich
- Helmut Vogt, Jan Balej, John E. Bennett, Peter Wintzer, Saeed Akbar Sheikh, Patrizio Gallone "Chlorine Oxides and Chlorine Oxygen Acids" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2002, Wiley-VCH. doi:10.1002/14356007.a06_483
- Boggs, T. L. (1970). "Deflagration Rate, Surface Structure and Subsurface Profile of Self-Deflagrating Single Crystals of Ammonium Perchlorate". AIAA Journal. 8 (5): 867–873. doi:10.2514/3.5780.
- NFPA 400: Hazardous Materials Code, 2010
- NFPA 495: Explosive Materials Code, 2010
- "Development of an Enhanced Hazard Classification System for Oxidizers Research Project, Technical Report", Safety Engineering Laboratories , Inc., The Fire Protection Research Foundation, 13 April 2006
- "Perchlorate: Overview of Issues, Status, and Remedial Actions", ITRC, September 2005
Compounds containing perchlorate group