Nitrocellulose
Overview
 
Nitrocellulose is a highly flammable compound formed by nitrating
Nitration
Nitration is a general chemical process for the introduction of a nitro group into a chemical compound. The dominant application of nitration is for the production of nitrobenzene, the precursor to methylene diphenyl diisocyanate...

 cellulose
Cellulose
Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to over ten thousand β linked D-glucose units....

 through exposure to nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

 or another powerful nitrating agent. When used as a propellant
Propellant
A propellant is a material that produces pressurized gas that:* can be directed through a nozzle, thereby producing thrust ;...

 or low-order explosive, it is also known as guncotton. Nitrocellulose plasticized by camphor
Camphor
Camphor is a waxy, white or transparent solid with a strong, aromatic odor. It is a terpenoid with the chemical formula C10H16O. It is found in wood of the camphor laurel , a large evergreen tree found in Asia and also of Dryobalanops aromatica, a giant of the Bornean forests...

 was used by Kodak, and other suppliers, from the late 1880s as a film base
Film base
A film base is a transparent substrate which acts as a support medium for the photosensitive emulsion that lies atop it. Despite the numerous layers and coatings associated with the emulsion layer, the base generally accounts for the vast majority of the thickness of any given film stock...

 in photograph, X-ray films and motion picture films; and was known as nitrate film.
Encyclopedia
Nitrocellulose is a highly flammable compound formed by nitrating
Nitration
Nitration is a general chemical process for the introduction of a nitro group into a chemical compound. The dominant application of nitration is for the production of nitrobenzene, the precursor to methylene diphenyl diisocyanate...

 cellulose
Cellulose
Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to over ten thousand β linked D-glucose units....

 through exposure to nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

 or another powerful nitrating agent. When used as a propellant
Propellant
A propellant is a material that produces pressurized gas that:* can be directed through a nozzle, thereby producing thrust ;...

 or low-order explosive, it is also known as guncotton. Nitrocellulose plasticized by camphor
Camphor
Camphor is a waxy, white or transparent solid with a strong, aromatic odor. It is a terpenoid with the chemical formula C10H16O. It is found in wood of the camphor laurel , a large evergreen tree found in Asia and also of Dryobalanops aromatica, a giant of the Bornean forests...

 was used by Kodak, and other suppliers, from the late 1880s as a film base
Film base
A film base is a transparent substrate which acts as a support medium for the photosensitive emulsion that lies atop it. Despite the numerous layers and coatings associated with the emulsion layer, the base generally accounts for the vast majority of the thickness of any given film stock...

 in photograph, X-ray films and motion picture films; and was known as nitrate film. After numerous fires caused by unstable nitrate films, safety film started to be used from the 1930s in the case of X-ray stock and from 1948 for motion picture film.

Guncotton

Henri Braconnot
Henri Braconnot
Henri Braconnot was a French chemist and pharmacist.He was born in Commercy, his father being a counsel at the local parliament...

 discovered in 1832 that nitric acid, when combined with starch or wood fibers, would produce a lightweight combustible explosive material, which he named xyloïdine. A few years later in 1838 another French chemist Théophile-Jules Pelouze
Théophile-Jules Pelouze
Théophile-Jules Pelouze was a French chemist. He was born at Valognes, and died in Paris....

 (teacher of Ascanio Sobrero and Alfred Nobel
Alfred Nobel
Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer. He is the inventor of dynamite. Nobel also owned Bofors, which he had redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments...

) treated paper and cardboard in the same way. He obtained a similar material he called nitramidine. Both of these substances were highly unstable, and were not practical explosives.

However, around 1846 Christian Friedrich Schönbein
Christian Friedrich Schönbein
Christian Friedrich Schönbein was a German-Swiss chemist who is best known for inventing the fuel cell and his discoveries of guncotton and ozone.- Life :...

, a German-Swiss chemist, discovered a more practical solution. As he was working in the kitchen of his home in Basle, he spilled a bottle of concentrated nitric acid on the kitchen table. He reached for the nearest cloth, a cotton apron, and wiped it up. He hung the apron on the stove door to dry, and, as soon as it was dry, there was a flash as the apron exploded. His preparation method was the first to be widely imitated — one part of fine cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 wool to be immersed in fifteen parts of an equal blend of sulfuric
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

 and nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

s. After two minutes, the cotton was removed and washed in cold water to set the esterification level and remove all acid residue. It was then slowly dried at a temperature below 100 °F
Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit is the temperature scale proposed in 1724 by, and named after, the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit . Within this scale, the freezing of water into ice is defined at 32 degrees, while the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 degrees...

 (about 38° C
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

). Schönbein collaborated with the Frankfurt professor Rudolf Christian Böttger
Rudolf Christian Böttger
Rudolf Christian Böttger was a German inorganic chemist. He conducted most of his research at the University of Frankfurt am Main...

, who had discovered the process independently in the same year. By coincidence, a third chemist, the Brunswick
Braunschweig
Braunschweig , is a city of 247,400 people, located in the federal-state of Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker river, which connects to the North Sea via the rivers Aller and Weser....

 professor F. J. Otto had also produced guncotton in 1846 and was the first to publish the process, much to the disappointment of Schönbein and Böttger.

The process uses the nitric acid to convert the cellulose into cellulose nitrate and water:
3HNO3+ C6H10O5 → C6H7(NO2)3O5 + 3H2O

The sulfuric acid is present as a catalyst to produce the nitronium ion
Nitronium ion
The nitronium ion, or sometimes the nitryl ion , , is a generally reactive cation created by the removal of an electron from the paramagnetic nitrogen dioxide molecule, or the protonation of nitric acid....

, NO2+. The reaction is first order and proceeds by electrophilic substitution at the C-OH centers of the cellulose.

The power of guncotton made it suitable for blasting. As a projectile driver, it has around six times the gas generation of an equal volume of black powder and produces less smoke and less heating. However, the sensitivity of the material during production led the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

ns and French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 to discontinue manufacture within a year.

Jules Verne
Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

 viewed the development of guncotton with optimism. He referred to the substance several times in his novels. His adventurers carried firearms employing this substance. The most noteworthy reference is in his From the Earth to the Moon
From the Earth to the Moon
From the Earth to the Moon is a humorous science fantasy novel by Jules Verne and is one of the earliest entries in that genre. It tells the story of the president of a post-American Civil War gun club in Baltimore, his rival, a Philadelphia maker of armor, and a Frenchman, who build an enormous...

, in which guncotton was used to launch a projectile into space.

Further research indicated the importance of very careful washing of the acidified cotton. Unwashed nitrocellulose (sometimes called pyrocellulose) may spontaneously ignite and explode at room temperature
Room temperature
-Comfort levels:The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has listings for suggested temperatures and air flow rates in different types of buildings and different environmental circumstances. For example, a single office in a building has an occupancy ratio per...

 as evaporating water concentrates unreacted acid. The British, led by Frederick Augustus Abel
Frederick Augustus Abel
-External links:...

, developed a much lengthier manufacturing process at the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills
Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills
The Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey, an Anchor Point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage, , set in of parkland and containing 21 buildings of major historical importance, mixes history, science, and attractive surroundings...

, patented in 1865, with the washing and drying times each extended to 48 hours and repeated eight times over. The acid mixture was changed to two parts sulfuric acid to one part nitric. Nitration can be controlled by adjusting acid concentrations and reaction temperature. Nitrocellulose is soluble in a mixture of alcohol and ether until nitrogen concentration exceeds 12 percent. Soluble nitrocellulose, or a solution thereof, is sometimes called collodion
Collodion
Collodion is a flammable, syrupy solution of pyroxylin in ether and alcohol. There are two basic types; flexible and non-flexible. The flexible type is often used as a surgical dressing or to hold dressings in place. When painted on the skin, collodion dries to form a flexible cellulose film...

.

Guncotton containing more than 13 percent nitrogen (sometimes called insoluble nitrocellulose) was prepared by prolonged exposure to hot, concentrated acids for limited use as a blasting explosive or for warhead
Warhead
The term warhead refers to the explosive material and detonator that is delivered by a missile, rocket, or torpedo.- Etymology :During the early development of naval torpedoes, they could be equipped with an inert payload that was intended for use during training, test firing and exercises. This...

s of underwater weapons like naval mine
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

s and torpedo
Torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

es. Guncotton, dissolved at approximately 25% in acetone, forms a lacquer used in preliminary stages of wood finishing to develop a hard finish with a deep lustre. It is normally the first coat applied, sanded and followed by other coatings that bond to it.

More stable and slower burning collodion mixtures were eventually prepared using less concentrated acids at lower temperatures for smokeless powder
Smokeless powder
Smokeless powder is the name given to a number of propellants used in firearms and artillery which produce negligible smoke when fired, unlike the older gunpowder which they replaced...

 in firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

s. The first practical smokeless powder made from nitrocellulose, for firearms and artillery ammunition, was invented by French chemist Paul Vieille in 1884.

Nitrate film

Nitrocellulose was used as the first flexible film base
Film base
A film base is a transparent substrate which acts as a support medium for the photosensitive emulsion that lies atop it. Despite the numerous layers and coatings associated with the emulsion layer, the base generally accounts for the vast majority of the thickness of any given film stock...

, beginning with Eastman Kodak
Eastman Kodak
Eastman Kodak Company is a multinational imaging and photographic equipment, materials and services company headquarted in Rochester, New York, United States. It was founded by George Eastman in 1892....

 products in August, 1889. Camphor
Camphor
Camphor is a waxy, white or transparent solid with a strong, aromatic odor. It is a terpenoid with the chemical formula C10H16O. It is found in wood of the camphor laurel , a large evergreen tree found in Asia and also of Dryobalanops aromatica, a giant of the Bornean forests...

 is used as a plasticizer
Plasticizer
Plasticizers or dispersants are additives that increase the plasticity or fluidity of the material to which they are added; these include plastics, cement, concrete, wallboard, and clay. Although the same compounds are often used for both plastics and concretes the desired effects and results are...

 for nitrocellulose film, often called nitrate film. It was used until 1933 for X-ray
X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

 films (where its flammability hazard was most acute) and for motion picture film until 1951. It was replaced by safety film with an acetate base.

The use of nitrocellulose film for motion pictures led to the requirement for fireproof projection rooms with wall coverings made of asbestos
Asbestos
Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals used commercially for their desirable physical properties. They all have in common their eponymous, asbestiform habit: long, thin fibrous crystals...

. The US Navy shot a training film for projectionists that included footage of a controlled ignition of a reel of nitrate film, which continued to burn when fully submerged in water. Unlike many other flammable materials, nitrocellulose does not need air to keep burning as the reaction produces oxygen. Once burning, it is extremely difficult to extinguish. Immersing burning film in water may not extinguish it, and could actually increase the amount of smoke produced. Owing to public safety precautions, the London Underground
London Underground
The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in England...

 forbade transport of movies on its system until well past the introduction of safety film.

Cinema fires caused by ignition of nitrocellulose film stock
Film stock
Film stock is photographic film on which filmmaking of motion pictures are shot and reproduced. The equivalent in television production is video tape.-1889–1899:...

 were the cause of the 1926 Dromcolliher cinema tragedy in County Limerick
County Limerick
It is thought that humans had established themselves in the Lough Gur area of the county as early as 3000 BC, while megalithic remains found at Duntryleague date back further to 3500 BC...

 in which 48 people died and the 1929 Glen Cinema Disaster
Glen Cinema Disaster
The Glen Cinema Disaster of 31 December, 1929 in Paisley, Scotland, killed 69 children and injured 40; the final death toll was 71.On the afternoon of 31 December 1929, during a children's matinee, a freshly shown film was put in its metal can, in the spool room, where it began to issue thick black...

 which killed 69 children. Today, nitrate film projection is normally highly regulated and requires extensive precautionary measures including extra projectionist health and safety training. Projectors certified to run nitrate films have many precautions, among them the chambering of the feed and takeup reels in thick metal covers with small slits to allow the film to run through. The projector is modified to accommodate several fire extinguishers with nozzles aimed at the film gate. The extinguishers automatically trigger if a piece of flammable fabric placed near the gate starts to burn. While this triggering would likely damage or destroy a significant portion of the projection components, it would prevent a fire which could cause far greater damage. Projection rooms may be required to have automatic metal covers for the projection windows, preventing the spread of fire to the auditorium
Auditorium
An auditorium is a room built to enable an audience to hear and watch performances at venues such as theatres. For movie theaters, the number of auditoriums is expressed as the number of screens.- Etymology :...

.

It was found that nitrocellulose gradually decomposes, releasing nitric acid and further catalyzing the decomposition (eventually into a flammable powder or goo). Decades later, storage at low temperatures was discovered as a means of delaying these reactions indefinitely. It is thought that the great majority of films produced during the early twentieth century were lost either through this accelerating, self-catalyzed disintegration or through studio warehouse fires. Salvaging old films is a major problem for film archivists (see film preservation
Film preservation
thumb|300px|Stacked containers filled with reels of [[film stock]]The film preservation, or film restoration, movement is an ongoing project among film historians, archivists, museums, cinematheques, and non-profit organizations to rescue decaying film stock and preserve the images which they contain...

).

Nitrocellulose film base manufactured by Kodak can be identified by the presence of the word Nitrate in dark letters between the perforations. Acetate film
Cellulose acetate film
Cellulose acetate film, or safety film, is used in photography as a base material for photographic emulsions. It was introduced in the early 20th century by film manufacturers as a safe film base replacement for unstable and highly flammable nitrate film....

 manufactured during the era when nitrate films were still in use was marked Safety or Safety Film between the perforations in dark letters. Film stocks in the non-standard gauges, 8 mm
8 mm film
8 mm film is a motion picture film format in which the filmstrip is eight millimeters wide. It exists in two main versions: the original standard 8mm film, also known as regular 8 mm or Double 8 mm, and Super 8...

 or 16 mm
16 mm film
16 mm film refers to a popular, economical gauge of film used for motion pictures and non-theatrical film making. 16 mm refers to the width of the film...

, were not manufactured with a nitrate base on any significant scale in the west, though rumours persist of 16mm nitrate having been produced in the former Soviet Union and/or China.

Replacement filmstocks

Nitrate dominated the market for professional use 35mm motion picture film from the industry's origins to the early 1950s. While cellulose acetate-based so-called 'safety film', notably cellulose diacetate and cellulose acetate propionate, was produced in the gauge for small-scale use in niche applications (e.g. printing advertisements and other short films to enable them to be sent through the post without the need for fire safety precautions), the early generations of safety film base had two major disadvantages relative to nitrate: it was a lot more expensive to manufacture, and a lot less durable in repeated projection. The cost of the safety precautions associated with the use of nitrate was significantly lower than the cost of using any of the safety bases available before 1948. These drawbacks were eventually overcome with the launch of cellulose triacetate
Cellulose triacetate
Cellulose triacetate, also known simply as triacetate, CTA and TAC, is manufactured from cellulose and a source of acetate esters, typically acetic anhydride...

 base film by Eastman Kodak in 1948. Cellulose triacetate superseded nitrate as the film industry's mainstay base very quickly: Kodak announced the discontinuation of nitrate manufacture in February 1950.

The crucial advantage cellulose triaecetate had over nitrate was that it was no more of a fire risk than paper (the stock is often erroneously referred to as 'non-flam': this is not true - it is combustible, but not in as volatile or as dangerous a way as nitrate), while it almost matched the cost and durability of nitrate. It remained in almost exclusive use in all film gauges until the 1980s, when polyester
Polyester
Polyester is a category of polymers which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. Although there are many polyesters, the term "polyester" as a specific material most commonly refers to polyethylene terephthalate...

, or PET film, began to supersede it for intermediate and release printing.

Polyester is much more resistant to polymer degradation
Polymer degradation
Polymer degradation is a change in the properties—tensile strength, colour, shape, etc.—of a polymer or polymer-based product under the influence of one or more environmental factors such as heat, light or chemicals such as acids, alkalis and some salts...

 than either nitrate or triacetate. Although triacetate does not decompose in as dangerous a way as nitrate does, it is still subject to a process known as deacetylation, often nicknamed 'vinegar syndrome' (due to the acetic acid
Acetic acid
Acetic acid is an organic compound with the chemical formula CH3CO2H . It is a colourless liquid that when undiluted is also called glacial acetic acid. Acetic acid is the main component of vinegar , and has a distinctive sour taste and pungent smell...

 smell of decomposing film) by archivists, which causes the film to shrink, deform, become brittle and eventually unusable. Polyethylene terephthalate
Polyethylene terephthalate
Polyethylene terephthalate , commonly abbreviated PET, PETE, or the obsolete PETP or PET-P, is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in synthetic fibers; beverage, food and other liquid containers; thermoforming applications; and engineering resins often in combination...

, like Cellulose Mononitrate, is less prone to stretching than other available plastics. By the late 1990s polyester had almost entirely superseded triacetate for the production of intermediate elements and release prints.

Triacetate remains in use for most camera negative stocks because it can be 'invisibly' spliced using solvents during negative assembly, while polyester film can only be spliced using adhesive tape patches or ultrasonically, both of which will leave visible marks in the frame area. Also triacetate film will break under tension, whereas polyester will not, reducing the risk of very serious damage to expensive camera mechanisms in the event of a film jam. This later point applies to projectors as well, of course. There were many opposed to the use of polyester for release prints for precisely this reason, and because ultrasonic splicers are very expensive items, beyond the budgets of many smaller theaters. However in practice this has not proved to be anything like such a problem as was feared. Rather, with the increased use of automated long-play systems in cinemas, the greater strength of polyester has been a significant advantage in lessening the risk of a film performance being interrupted by a film break.

Guncotton

In general, cotton was used as the cellulose base, and is added to concentrated sulfuric acid and 70% nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

 cooled to 0oC to give cellulose trinitrate (or guncotton).

While guncotton is dangerous to store, its risks can be reduced by storing it wet or in oil.

Nitrate film

Cellulose is treated with sulfuric acid and potassium nitrate
Potassium nitrate
Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound with the formula KNO3. It is an ionic salt of potassium ions K+ and nitrate ions NO3−.It occurs as a mineral niter and is a natural solid source of nitrogen. Its common names include saltpetre , from medieval Latin sal petræ: "stone salt" or possibly "Salt...

 to give cellulose mononitrate. This was used commercially as Celluloid, a highly flammable plastic used in the first half of the 20th Century for lacquers and photographic film.

Uses

  • A nitrocellulose slide
    Nitrocellulose slide
    A nitrocellulose slide is a biochemical research tool that is used to bind biological material, often protein, for colorimetric and fluorescence detection assays...

    , nitrocellulose membrane or nitrocellulose paper is a sticky membrane
    Artificial membrane
    An artificial membrane, or synthetic membrane, is a synthetically created membrane which is usually intended for separation purposes in laboratory or in industry. Synthetic membranes have been successfully used for small and large-scale industrial processes since the middle of twentieth century. A...

     used for immobilizing nucleic acids in Southern blot
    Southern blot
    A Southern blot is a method routinely used in molecular biology for detection of a specific DNA sequence in DNA samples. Southern blotting combines transfer of electrophoresis-separated DNA fragments to a filter membrane and subsequent fragment detection by probe hybridization. The method is named...

    s and northern blot
    Northern blot
    The northern blot is a technique used in molecular biology research to study gene expression by detection of RNA in a sample. With northern blotting it is possible to observe cellular control over structure and function by determining the particular gene expression levels during differentiation,...

    s. It is also used for immobilization of proteins in Western blot
    Western blot
    The western blot is a widely used analytical technique used to detect specific proteins in the given sample of tissue homogenate or extract. It uses gel electrophoresis to separate native proteins by 3-D structure or denatured proteins by the length of the polypeptide...

    s and Atomic Force Microscopy for its non-specific affinity for amino acids. Nitrocellulose is widely used as support in diagnostic tests where antigen-antibody binding occur, e.g., pregnancy tests, U-Albumin tests and CRP. Glycine and chloride ions make protein transfer more efficient.
  • When the solution is dissolved in ether
    Diethyl ether
    Diethyl ether, also known as ethyl ether, simply ether, or ethoxyethane, is an organic compound in the ether class with the formula . It is a colorless, highly volatile flammable liquid with a characteristic odor...

    , alcohol
    Alcohol
    In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

     or other organic solvents it produces collodion
    Collodion
    Collodion is a flammable, syrupy solution of pyroxylin in ether and alcohol. There are two basic types; flexible and non-flexible. The flexible type is often used as a surgical dressing or to hold dressings in place. When painted on the skin, collodion dries to form a flexible cellulose film...

    , discovered in 1846 and introduced as a wound dressing during the Crimean War
    Crimean War
    The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

    . It is still in use today in topical skin applications, such as liquid skin and in the application of salicylic acid
    Salicylic acid
    Salicylic acid is a monohydroxybenzoic acid, a type of phenolic acid and a beta hydroxy acid. This colorless crystalline organic acid is widely used in organic synthesis and functions as a plant hormone. It is derived from the metabolism of salicin...

    , the active ingredient in Compound W wart remover.
  • In 1851, Frederick Scott Archer
    Frederick Scott Archer
    Frederick Scott Archer invented the photographic collodion process which preceded the modern gelatin emulsion. He was born in Bishop's Stortford in the UK and is remembered mainly for this single achievement which greatly increased the accessibility of photography for the general public.tyler was...

     invented the Wet Collodion Process as a replacement for albumen in early photographic
    Photography
    Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...

     emulsions, binding light-sensitive silver halide
    Silver halide
    A silver halide is one of the compounds formed between silver and one of the halogens — silver bromide , chloride , iodide , and three forms of silver fluorides. As a group, they are often referred to as the silver halides, and are often given the pseudo-chemical notation AgX...

    s to a glass plate.
  • Magician
    Magic (illusion)
    Magic is a performing art that entertains audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means...

    's flash paper, sheets of paper or cloth made from nitrocellulose, which burn almost instantly with a bright flash leaving no ash.
  • Radon
    Radon
    Radon is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. It is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as the decay product of uranium or thorium. Its most stable isotope, 222Rn, has a half-life of 3.8 days...

     tests for alpha track etches.
  • Nitrocellulose lacquer
    Lacquer
    In a general sense, lacquer is a somewhat imprecise term for a clear or coloured varnish that dries by solvent evaporation and often a curing process as well that produces a hard, durable finish, in any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss and that can be further polished as required...

     was used as a finish on guitars and saxophones for most of the 20th century and is still used on some current applications. Manufactured by (among others) DuPont
    DuPont
    E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company , commonly referred to as DuPont, is an American chemical company that was founded in July 1802 as a gunpowder mill by Eleuthère Irénée du Pont. DuPont was the world's third largest chemical company based on market capitalization and ninth based on revenue in 2009...

    , the paint was also used on automobiles sharing the same color codes as many guitars including Fender and Gibson
    Gibson Guitar Corporation
    The Gibson Guitar Corporation, formerly of Kalamazoo, Michigan and currently of Nashville, Tennessee, manufactures guitars and other instruments which sell under a variety of brand names...

     brands, although it fell out of favor for a number of reasons: pollution, and the way the lacquer yellows and cracks over time.
  • Nitrocellulose lacquer is also used as an aircraft dope
    Aircraft dope
    thumb|right|[[United Kingdom military aircraft serials|2699]] a [[World War I]] [[Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2]] finished in a clear dopeAircraft dope is a plasticised lacquer that is applied to fabric-covered aircraft...

    , painted onto fabric-covered aircraft to tauten and provide protection to the material.
  • As a medium for cryptographic one-time pad
    One-time pad
    In cryptography, the one-time pad is a type of encryption, which has been proven to be impossible to crack if used correctly. Each bit or character from the plaintext is encrypted by a modular addition with a bit or character from a secret random key of the same length as the plaintext, resulting...

    s, thus making the disposal of the pad complete, secure, and efficient.
  • Nitrocellulose lacquer is spin-coated onto aluminum or glass discs, then a groove is cut with a lathe, to make one-off phonograph records, used as masters for pressing or for play in dance clubs. They are referred to as acetate disc
    Acetate disc
    An acetate disc, also known as a test acetate, dubplate , lacquer , transcription disc or instantaneous disc...

    s.
  • Depending on the manufacturing process, nitrocellulose is esterified to varying degrees. Table tennis
    Table tennis
    Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net...

     balls, guitar
    Guitar
    The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

     picks and some photographic films have a fairly low esterification level and burn comparatively slowly with some charred residue. See celluloid
    Celluloid
    Celluloid is the name of a class of compounds created from nitrocellulose and camphor, plus dyes and other agents. Generally regarded to be the first thermoplastic, it was first created as Parkesine in 1862 and as Xylonite in 1869, before being registered as Celluloid in 1870. Celluloid is...

    .


Because of its explosive nature, not all applications of nitrocellulose were successful. In 1869, with elephants having been poached to near extinction, the billiards industry offered a $10,000 prize to whoever came up with the best replacement for ivory billiard ball
Billiard ball
A billiard ball is a small, hard ball used in cue sports, such as carom billiards, pool, and snooker. The number, type, diameter, color, and pattern of the balls differ depending upon the specific game being played...

s. John Wesley Hyatt
John Wesley Hyatt
John Wesley Hyatt was an American inventor. He is mainly known for simplifying the production of celluloid, the first industrial plastic. Hyatt, a Perkin Medal recipient, is an inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.-Biography:Hyatt was born in Starkey, New York, and began working as a...

 created the winning replacement which he coated with a new material he discovered called camphored nitrocellulose—the first thermoplastic
Thermoplastic
Thermoplastic, also known as a thermosoftening plastic, is a polymer that turns to a liquid when heated and freezes to a very glassy state when cooled sufficiently...

, better known as celluloid
Celluloid
Celluloid is the name of a class of compounds created from nitrocellulose and camphor, plus dyes and other agents. Generally regarded to be the first thermoplastic, it was first created as Parkesine in 1862 and as Xylonite in 1869, before being registered as Celluloid in 1870. Celluloid is...

. The invention enjoyed a brief popularity, but the Hyatt balls were extremely flammable, and sometimes portions of the outer shell would explode upon impact. An owner of a billiard saloon in Colorado wrote to Hyatt about the explosive tendencies, saying that he did not mind very much personally but for the fact that every man in his saloon immediately pulled a gun at the sound. The process used by Hyatt to manufacture the billiard balls, (US Patent 239,792, 1881) involved placing the mass of nitrocellulose in a rubber bag, which was then placed in a cylinder of liquid and heated. Pressure was applied to the liquid in the cylinder, which resulted in a uniform compression on the nitrocellulose mass, compressing it into a uniform sphere as the heat vaporized the solvents. The ball was then cooled and turned to make a uniform sphere. In light of the explosive results, this process was called the "Hyatt Gun Method".

See also

  • Cellulose
    Cellulose
    Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to over ten thousand β linked D-glucose units....

  • Smokeless powder
    Smokeless powder
    Smokeless powder is the name given to a number of propellants used in firearms and artillery which produce negligible smoke when fired, unlike the older gunpowder which they replaced...

  • Cordite
    Cordite
    Cordite is a family of smokeless propellants developed and produced in the United Kingdom from 1889 to replace gunpowder as a military propellant. Like gunpowder, cordite is classified as a low explosive because of its slow burning rates and consequently low brisance...

  • Nitroglycerine
  • Nitrostarch
    Nitrostarch
    Nitrostarch is a secondary explosive similar to nitrocellulose made by the nitration of starch by a mixture of sulfuric acid and nitric acid.-History:Nitrostarch was invented by H. Barconnot in 1833.In World War I, it was used as a filler in hand grenades....

  • Potassium nitrate
    Potassium nitrate
    Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound with the formula KNO3. It is an ionic salt of potassium ions K+ and nitrate ions NO3−.It occurs as a mineral niter and is a natural solid source of nitrogen. Its common names include saltpetre , from medieval Latin sal petræ: "stone salt" or possibly "Salt...


External links

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