Journal of Pyrotechnics

 

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Titles and Abstracts for Issue No. 14, Winter 2001

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Hazards Associated with the Storage of Fireworks
Roy Merrifield
[Health and Safety Executive, Hazardous Installations Directorate, Methodology & Standards Development Unit, St Anne's House, Stanley Precinct, Merseyside, L20 3RA, UK]

Abstract: Large quantities of a whole range of materials, including fireworks, are moved around the world in steel ISO containers. In recent years in the UK, manufacturers and retailers have used such containers to store fireworks. It has been long recognized that confinement can increase the hazard of energetic materials such as pyrotechnics and propellants. Recent incidents involving fireworks and large-scale fire engulfment trials on ISO containers filled with fireworks have raised concerns about the possible effects of confinement on the hazards presented by the more energetic fireworks. This paper presents information on one such fireworks incident in the UK and the action taken following this incident; together with a summary of the fire trials conducted to date by the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on packaged fireworks in ISO containers.

Keywords: fireworks storage, fire, explosion, hazard, explosive storage

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Thermal Techniques Used in the Hazard Evaluation of Pyrotechnics
P. D. Lightfoot, R. C. Fouchard, A.-M. Turcotte, Q. S. M. Kwok and D. E. G. Jones
[Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory, 555 Booth Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0G1 Canada]

Abstract: A hazard assessment provides important information for determination of safe conditions for the manufacture, storage and transportation of pyrotechnics. Sensitivity to thermal stimuli is an important aspect of an overall hazard assessment. This paper describes a number of laboratory techniques that can be used to determine thermal properties of pyrotechnics and other energetic materials. The experimental methods and variable parameters of thermogravimetry (TG), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), accelerating rate calorimetry (ARC), heat flux calorimetry (HFC) and simultaneous TG/DTA (SDT, for 'simultaneous differential thermal analysis') are described, along with the information they provide. Experimental examples are provided in each case. All the techniques described are in use at the Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory. No single technique is without its limitations, and a combination of techniques, to provide complementary information, is often the best approach. Many of the methods employed are described in ASTM standards.

Keywords: thermal hazards, differential scanning calorimetry, DSC, thermogravimetry, TG, differential thermal analysis, DTA, accelerating rate calorimetry, ARC, heat flux calorimetry, HFC, simultaneous differential thermal analysis SDT

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Our Present Knowledge of the Chemistry of Black Powder
Ian von Maltitz [Colorado Springs, CO, 80907 USA]

Abstract: Black Powder has been around for centuries and has had a profound influence on the history of the world. Over this time, a considerable amount of knowledge has been gained about the chemistry of Black Powder. This knowledge not only sheds light on the chemistry of Black Powder but also on other pyrotechnic reactions. But our knowledge cannot be considered complete, in spite of all the research that has taken place. This article attempts to summarize the present knowledge about Black Powder's ignition and propagation chemistry. It describes what we know and also what we don't know in our understanding of Black Powder.

Keywords: Black Powder chemistry, ignition, propagation, Black Powder research

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A Brief Introduction to Noise and Data Filtering
L. Weinman [Schneier/Weinman Consultants, Huntsville, AL 35802, USA]

Abstract: This brief article examines some aspects of noise and the effects of filters applied to data.

Keywords: signals, data acquisition, noise, data filter, digital filter, pyrotechnic, experimental design

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Applying Explosives Testing Techniques To Obtain Insight into the Explosion (Or Is It Detonation?) Phenomenon of Piles of Fireworks
E. Contestabile [Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory, 555 Booth St., Ottawa, Ont. G1A 0G1, Canada]

Abstract: There are times when the legal system requires so-called expert witnesses. Whether it is with regard to terrorist or criminal activities or accidents, the expert is often confronted with explaining the dreaded term "detonation". The attempt to explain such a catastrophic event often brings about the use of similes. In this paper, the author will provide arguments to support the use of a modified Height-to-Detonation and other steel pipe tests to generate data that may be useful in differentiating explosive reactions, including detonation, within a pile of fireworks. Work continues in this vein and test results will be published in a future article.

Keywords: explosion, detonation, aerial shell, height to detonation output testing

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A Ground Test Rocket Thrust Measurement System
Mary Fran Desrochers, Gary W. Olsen, and M.K. Hudson [Department of Applied Science and The Graduate Institute of Technology University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR 72204 USA]

Abstract: A strain gauge thrust measurement system is described for rocket motor ground testing. The unit uses sigmoid beams to hold the rocket motor in place, with the strain gauges mounted on these beams. The theory and usage of strain gauges is briefly discussed, along with all circuit and other information necessary to build a similar system. The system was calibrated for the 50 lb thrust level and applied to the UALR Hybrid Rocket Facility. Its performance characteristics are discussed. The system was found suitable for continuous monitoring in such a ground testing environment, and indicated that the hybrid thruster utilized in the facility develops 41 lbf thrust at an oxidant mass flow of 0.125 lbm.

Keywords: rocket ground testing, thrust sensor, combustion diagnostics, strain gauge, hybrid rocket

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Hypotheses Regarding "Star-Shell-Detonations"
K. L. & B. J. Kosanke [PyroLabs, Inc., 1775 Blair Rd, Whitewater, CO 81527, USA]

Abstract: Fireworks star shells occasionally explode upon firing while they are still inside the mortar. Most often, this occurs with approximately the same level of violence as when the shell explodes after having left the mortar, and often even relatively weak mortars survive the experience intact. While unnerving to the firing crew, this represents relatively little hazard for crew or spectators. However, on rare occasion, the in-mortar star shell explosion achieves a level of violence substantially greater than normal. These more powerful explosions represent a potentially life-threatening hazard for both the firing crew and spectators. Unfortunately, the cause for these more violent explosions has not been established, and without knowing the cause, little can be done to prevent them from happening. In this article, two hypotheses are suggested as possible explanations for these dangerous malfunctions. Basic information and some empirical evidence are presented in support of two potential theories.

Keywords: aerial shell explosion, aerial shell malfunction, in-mortar explosion, flowerpot, star-shell-detonation, VIME

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Communications :
  • Brief Speculation on the Explosive Decomposition of "Yellow Powder" by Bob Foreman, Jerry Ittenbach, and Calvin Swartzendruber

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  • Bridgewire Temperature Estimation Using a Constant Current Supply  by L. Weinman

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  • An observation Regarding "Fireworks Shell Drift due to Shell-to-Bore Clearance" by K. Kosanke

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  • Review by D. Caulkins of: The Big Bang: A History of Explosives  by George I Brown

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  • Review by Jim Malek of: Incendiary Art: The Representation of Fireworks in Early Modern Europe  by Kevin Salatino

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    Please send comments and suggested corrections to:
    B. Kosanke, Publisher, Journal of Pyrotechnics, Inc.
    1775 Blair Road Whitewater, CO 81527 USA
    Phone/FAX +970-245-0692

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    Last updated 22-Jan-2009