Nerve Agents- Exploring the background and power of Nerve Agents

Essay by semper.fi11High School, 11th gradeA-, April 2008

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In 1934 a German biochemist of the name Dr Gerhard Schrader stumbled on the chemicals of the first nerve agent. The effect that was present on the inventor, while he was making his concoction, was due to the effects of Organo-phosphates of humans. His symptoms were loss in eyesight, hard breathing and lastly, spasms and in his arms. His discovery induced to the huge amount of German research in such chemical compositions.

By the time of World War 2, when the Nazi’s had political power, the ancestor of the future Nerve agents was invented, named the N-gas, this nerve gas was able to be absorbed thought the skin, and was used extensively during the war.

Research was still continued right up till the 1940’s, where the G-series was discovered, G because the German scientists first synthesised them, which comprised of tabun (GA), sarin (GB), soman (GD), and cyclosarin (GF) which are among the most toxic chemical warfare agents known.

In the 1950’s the British successfully synthesised many chemicals with similar basic form, which were more potent than the previous series. The V-series agents include methylphosphonothioate (VX), ethylphosphonothioate (VE), phosphorothioate (VG), methylphosphonothioate (VM) and a gas that is the Russian equivalent to the British/American methylphosphonothioate (V-gas).

A technology associated with nerve agents is binary weapons technology. In this technology nerve agents are mixture in a container (as of a missile, bomb, etc.) just before impacting.

The idea of Binary weapons technology is using the two initial substances that are stored in separate containers in a shell, collide with each other, midair, mixing the components and allowing both to react and the formation of the nerve agent when the projectile is on its way towards its target, shown in the diagram to the left.

Until the collision is made between both liquid...