# Comparing explosive properties of mercury(II) cyanate and mercury(II) fulminate

I found this question online on Jiskha Homework Help:

Of the compounds mercury(II) cyanate, $$\ce{Hg(OCN)2},$$ and mercury(II) fulminate, $$\ce{Hg(CNO)2},$$ one is highly explosive, the other is not. Explain.

My teachers says that most explosives are made of nitro compounds as abnormal expansion in $$\ce{N-O}$$ bond has been observed in nitro compounds above a certain temperature. So, fulminate will be more explosive as it contains $$\ce{N-O}$$ bond.

According to Wikipedia, explosiveness of nitro and other nitrogen containing compounds (like $$\ce{NI3})$$ is because of possibility of forming highly inert and stable $$\ce{N2}$$ molecules. Thus slight amount of energy causes breaking of relatively weaker $$\ce{N-O}$$ bonds and highly exothermic formation of $$\ce{N2}$$ triple bond making it act like an explosive.

Is my teacher correct? The reasoning given on Wikipedia also points to fulminate but some other concept may be at play here. So, which is correct? Also what would be the reaction mechanism if any?

• "Obligatory" Breaking Bad reference: Fulminated mercury Wiki. As for the question, I bet there is an answer in one of Klapötke's published works:) Jul 20 '20 at 6:53
• @andselisk That Klapötke is alive to write with all fingers and faculties intact is a majestic testament to either walking the razors edge with skill or armed with an unseemly supply of sheer luck. Or both. Dec 17 '20 at 8:43