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Advances in Physical Chemistry
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 175146, 7 pages
Research Article

A Theoretical Investigation of the Ring Strain Energy, Destabilization Energy, and Heat of Formation of CL-20

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614, USA

Received 10 April 2012; Accepted 13 August 2012

Academic Editor: Dennis Salahub

Copyright © 2012 John A. Bumpus. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The cage compound CL-20 (a.k.a., 2,4,6,8,10,12-hexanitro-2,4,6,8,10,12-hexaazaisowurtzitane, HNIW, or 2,4,6,8,10,12-hexanitro-2,4,6,8,10,12-hexaazatetracyclo[,11.05,9]dodecane) is a well-studied high-energy-density material (HEDM). The high positive gas- ) and solid- () phase heat of formation values for CL-20 conformers have often been attributed to the strain energy of this cage compound and, by implication, to the conventional ring strain energy (CRSE) inherent in isowurtzitane which may be viewed as a “parent compound” (although not the synthetic precursor) of CL-20. values and destabilization energies (DSEs), which include the contribution from CRSE, were determined by computation using a relatively new multilevel ab intio model chemistry. Compared to cubane, isowurtzitane does not have an exceptionally high CRSE. It is about the same as that of cyclopropane and cyclobutane. These investigations demonstrate that instead of the CRSE inherent in the isowurtzitane parent compound, the relatively high and DSE values of CL-20 conformers must be due, primarily, to torsional strain (Pitzer strain), transannular strain (Prelog strain), and van der Waals interactions that occur due to the presence of the six >N–NO2 substituents that replace the six methylene (–CH2–) groups in the isowurtzitane parent compound. These conclusions are even more pronounced when 2,4,6,8,10,12-hexaazaisowurtzitane is viewed as the “parent compound.”