Cellulose nitrate

From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia

Cellulose Nitrate is a highly flammable compound used as a propellant and explosive. It is also known as nitrocellulose and guncotton. It was first created by Christian Friedrich Schönbein in 1846 and has been used extensively in industries such as photography, film, and plastics.

History[edit | edit source]

Christian Friedrich Schönbein, a Swiss-German chemist, discovered cellulose nitrate in 1846. He found that when cotton was treated with nitric acid, it could be transformed into a highly flammable compound. This discovery led to the development of cellulose nitrate as a propellant and explosive, replacing gunpowder in many applications.

Production[edit | edit source]

Cellulose nitrate is produced by treating cellulose with nitric acid. This process, known as nitrification, involves the substitution of hydrogen atoms in the cellulose molecule with nitro groups. The resulting compound is a highly flammable and unstable nitrate ester.

Uses[edit | edit source]

Cellulose nitrate has been used in a variety of applications due to its properties as a propellant and explosive. It was widely used in the production of smokeless powder, a type of propellant used in firearms and artillery. It has also been used in the production of dynamite, a powerful explosive.

In addition to its use as a propellant and explosive, cellulose nitrate has been used in the production of celluloid, a type of plastic. Celluloid was used extensively in the production of photographic film and motion picture film until it was replaced by safer materials.

Safety and Environmental Concerns[edit | edit source]

Due to its highly flammable nature, cellulose nitrate poses significant safety risks. It can easily ignite and cause fires or explosions. Additionally, it decomposes over time, producing gases that can increase the risk of explosion.

Cellulose nitrate also poses environmental concerns. When it decomposes, it can release nitrogen oxides, which contribute to air pollution and the formation of acid rain.

See Also[edit | edit source]

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD