Shock tube detonator

A shock tube detonator is a non-electric explosive fuze or initiator in the form of small-diameter hollow plastic tubing used to transport an initiating signal to an explosive charge by means of a percussive wave traveling the length of the tube.[1] It was invented by Per Anders Persson of Nitro Nobel AB, patented,[2] and sold by them under the registered trademark Nonel,[3] containing a small quantity of high explosive, but safer and more reliable than detonating cord with the same quantity of explosive.[2] Another early product contained an enclosed combusting, non-detonating fiber.[4][5]

The most common product is 3 mm outer diameter and 1 mm inner diameter, with a tiny dusting of HMX/aluminum explosive powder on the tubing's inner surface, which detonates down the tube at a speed greater than 6500 feet per second but does not burst the tube.[5] Being non-electrical and non-metallic, shock tubes are less sensitive to static electricity and radio frequency energy and thus have replaced many uses of electric detonators and are safer to handle and store than detonating cord. A version containing an explosive gas mixture has the additional advantage of being entirely inert until the tubing is charged with the gas.[5]

One manufacturer estimates that over 2 billion feet of shock tube are used each year worldwide, in commercial blasting, military demolition, theatrical special effects, automobile airbags, aircraft escape systems, IED initiation and professional fireworks.[1]


  1. 1 2 “All About Shock Tube” Shock Tube Systems Inc, (Sterling, CT)
  2. 1 2 US patent 3590739, Persson, Per-Anders (Sodertalje, Sweden) assigned to Nitro-Nobel AB, "FUSE", issued 1971-7-6
  3. James T. Thurman, ‘’Practical bomb scene investigation’‘, p104
  4. US patent 4220087, Posson, Philip L Assigned to Explosive Technology, Inc. (Fairfield, Calif. ), "Linear ignition fuse", issued 1980-9-2
  5. 1 2 3 Daniel C. Rontey, SHOCK TUBE TECHNOLOGY: A REVIEW

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