Experiment to investigate the explosive potential of electrolytic capacitors
AJ PENTON, JD HALL, C REED, CE HOWMAN et Al. University of Cambridge. October 1999

Abstract

Electrolytic capacitors are known to be unstable when connected to dc power with reverse polarity. This investigation attempted to prove the viability of such devices as explosive devices. It was concluded that such capacitors are ineffective explosives, and, indeed are ineffective at anything other than being capacitors.

Introduction

This investigation is the second in which this phenomenon has been investigated by the group. The previous experiment established that small capacitors do indeed explode when connected to a power supply in reverse polarity. This experiment was an attempt to replicate the experiment in larger devices. It was anticipated that a larger device might produce a higher energy explosion which would be potentially useful in, for example, rock quarrying or demolition work. Picture of four BIG capacitors

The test subjects that were donated to the group are shown here, and their characteristics are given in the following table: