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n. PETN is an acronym for Pentaerythritol tetranitrate. It is also known as PENT, PENTA, TEN, corpent, penthrite (or—rarely and primarily in German—as nitropenta), is the nitrate ester of pentaerythritol. Penta refers to the five carbon atoms of the neopentane skeleton. PETN is most well known as a secondary explosive. It is one of the most powerful high explosives known, with a relative effectiveness factor of 1.66. PETN mixed with a plasticizer forms a plastic explosive. As a mixture with RDX and other minor additives, it forms another plastic explosive called Semtex as well. PETN was first synthesized in 1891 by Bernhard Tollens and P. Wigand by nitration of pentaerythritol. The production of PETN started in 1912, when it was patented by the German government.
PETN was used by the German Army in World War I. PETN was discovered in the bombs used by the 2001 Shoe Bomber, in the 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot, and in the 2010 cargo plane bomb plot.
by Dan Weyandt June 21, 2013