Volume 89 Issue 16 | p. 36 | Concentrates
Issue Date: April 18, 2011

Green-Lighting Boron Carbide

A new pyrotechnic material burns green in color, is greener for the planet, and is easy on the greenbacks
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: boron carbide, pyrotechnic
A cleaner boron carbide pyrotechnic (bottom) burns comparably to a standard barium-based device (top).
Credit: Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.
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A cleaner boron carbide pyrotechnic (bottom) burns comparably to a standard barium-based device (top).
Credit: Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.

A boron carbide-based pyrotechnic that’s green in color, greener for the planet, and easy on the greenbacks has been reported by chemists at the U.S. Army’s Armament Research, Development & Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., DOI: 10.1002/anie.201007827). Pyrotechnics that burn green in color are among the least environmentally friendly because such formulations usually contain toxic barium and chlorinated organic compounds. Although alternative green-emitting pyrotechnics have been identified, they tend to be expensive and have yet to eclipse barium-based compounds. Jesse J. Sabatini, Jay C. Poret, and Russell N. Broad discovered that B4C gives off a bright green color when combined with the oxidizer potassium nitrate at high temperatures. The green color arises from the formation of metastable boron dioxide. “Boron carbide is widely used in the ceramics industry but was never thought to have colorant properties in pyrotechnics,” Sabatini says. “We believe the finding has the potential to have revolutionary and meaningful environmental applications in both military and civilian pyrotechnics.”

 
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ISSN 0009-2347
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