Journal of Pyrotechnics

 

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Titles and Abstracts for Issue No. 2, Winter 1995

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R. W. Bickes, Jr. and M. C. Grubelich [Sandia Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, USA]

Abstract: We have developed a silicon semiconductor bridge (SCB) igniter which, when driven with a low-energy current pulse, produces a plasma discharge that ignites energetic materials. Our experiments have demonstrated that SCB explosive devices function in a few tens of microseconds at one-tenth the input energy of hot-wire devices. Despite the low input energies for ignition, tests have demonstrated SCB devices to be explosively safe, passing electrostatic discharge (ESD) requirements and no-fire current levels. In fact, SCB devices can have better no-fire characteristics than hot-wire devices, because of the intimate bridge contact between the underlying thermally conductive substrate. We have tested several different prototype explosive devices . In addition, we have tested SCB actuators with breadboarded "smart" firing sets that will fire the SCB actuators only after transmission of a digital code, after a preset delay, or in a preprogrammed sequence.

Keywords: igniter, semiconductor bridge, SCB, semiconductor bridge igniter

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M. A. Williams [Night Musick, Inc., Denver, CO USA]

Abstract: Professional fireworks displays, as well as those performed by volunteers, have for many years relied on equipment designs and techniques that were established before the turn of the century. The use of steel mortars, the hand firing of individual aerial shells and the use of wooden racks for chain firing of finale effects have until recently been the industry standard. These techniques and designs are adequate for the use intended, as long as the shells function normally, but if a color shell "detonates" or a salute explodes in a mortar, the results can be catastrophic. Since these designs and techniques first came about, the severity of the legal repercussions from accidents at displays has increased to the point where such an event, however unlikely, now represents an unacceptable legal risk to the display company. In this article, designs are presented for finale racks and single shot mortars (for use in "dense-pack" style rack systems) that were developed at Night Musick Inc., and which significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic equipment failure in the event of a shell malfunction.

Keywords: chain fusing, finale rack, fusing, chain, matrix rack, mortar, fireworks-rack design, overpressure, shell, fireworks aerial-detonation

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W. D. Smith [Ricks College, Rexburg, ID USA]

Abstract: This is the second in a series of tutorials that introduce the concepts of chemistry to practicing pyrotechnists. The behavior of electrons in atoms is given as the fundamental explanation for all pyrotechnic processes. The periodic arrangement of the elements in a table and their tendencies to unite in chemical bonds are attributed to electrons. Even the production of heat, light, sound, and color in fireworks are ascribed to electronic movements.

Keywords: chemical-bonds, chemical-oxidation, chemical-reduction, colored flame, flame-color, oxidation, periodic table, reduction

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C. Jennings-White [Salt Lake City, UT, USA] and K. L. Kosanke [PyroLabs, Inc., Whitewater, CO USA]
Abstract: All pyrotechnic compositions present some hazard due to their ability to produce energy. However, some compositions may pose an added hazard because of the combination of incompatible materials. The use of such compositions may result in more frequent accidental ignitions during processing or spontaneous ignitions during storage. Other compositions pose an added hazard because of their ability to produce especially large amounts of energy with rapid reaction rates. The use of such compositions is likely to result in especially powerful explosions in the event of an accidental ignition.

This article attempts an organized examination of some combinations of commonly used pyrotechnic chemicals, which are believed to have significantly increased hazard potentials.

Keywords: accidental ignition, chemical-hazardous combinations, chemical-incompatibility, hazardous chemical combinations, ignition-, accidental, ignition-, spontaneous, spontaneous ignition

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J. E. Hay [Pittsburgh Research Center, US Bureau of Mines, Pittsburgh, PA, USA]
Introduction: The treasury department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) requested the Bureau of Mines to perform bullet impact sensitivity tests on a selection of class B (display) fireworks shells and some ingredients thereof (flash powder, "stars"), and also to establish that the flash powder used in salute shells is a detonable material, something which is widely presumed but apparently not documented.

The fireworks and ingredients to be tested were procured by BATF from two different domestic suppliers and included a variety of foreign as well as domestic shells, two different flash powder compositions, and two different kinds of "stars."

Suppliers of the shells and ingredients are designated in this report as Manufacturer K and Manufacturer M.

In most cases, there was only one shell of each kind; where more than one shell of the same kind was available, the shell was impacted in two different orientations: through the center of the lateral surface when seated vertically, and through the center of the bottom when lying on its side. In a very few cases there were more than two shells, and in these cases a replicate shot using the shell in one or the other of these orientations was performed. Manufacturer K supplied shells in both the "lifted" and "unlifted" form. "lifted" refers to the inclusion of a small charge (several grams to a few ounces depending on the size of the shell) of coarse black powder which serves as the propellant charge to eject the shell from the mortar for aerial displays.

Keywords: bullet sensitiveness, detonability testing, flash-powder , powder-, flash, sensitiveness-, bullet, testing-, detonability

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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