Issue Date: June 4, 2012
Periodates’ Pyrotechnic Punch
Periodate salts may be an environmentally friendly substitute for toxic barium and perchlorate oxidizers frequently found in light-emitting pyrotechnic mixtures (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., DOI: 10.1002/anie.201202589). For a number of years, scientists have been working to find green formulations for pyrotechnics used in the military and in public displays. Now, Army chemists Jared D. Moretti, Jesse J. Sabatini, and Gary Chen at Picatinny Arsenal, in New Jersey, have developed incendiary mixtures featuring periodates such as KIO4 and NaIO4 that are chemically analogous to perchlorates but less toxic. Combined with the alloy magnalium (50/50 magnesium-aluminum) as the fuel, these mixtures produce a bright flash of light, the group finds. The NaIO4-based formulation in particular is less impact sensitive, more thermally stable, and has similar friction and electrostatic discharge sensitivities compared with the IM-28, a military formula used in armor-piercing bullets that contains barium and potassium perchlorate oxidizers. The group is now exploring the use of periodate salts in other pyrotechnic mixtures.
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