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Lead-Free Double-Base Propellant for the 2.75 Inch Rocket MotorThe current MK 66 2.75 inch Rocket Motor double-base propellant contains the lead-based ballistic modifier LC-12-15 to achieve the desired plateau and mesa burning rate characteristics. The use of lead compounds poses a concern for the environment and for personal safety due to the metal's toxic nature when introduced into the atmosphere by propellant manufacture, rocket motor firing, and disposal. Copper beta-resorcylate (copper 2,4-di-hydroxy-benzoate) was successfully used in propellant as a simple modifier in the mid 1970's. This and other compounds have also been mixed with lead salts to obtain more beneficial ballistic results. Synthesized complexes of lead and copper compounds soon replaced the mixtures. The complexes incorporate the lead, copper lack of organic liquids, which allows for easier propellant processing. About ten years ago, the Indian Head Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), initiated an effort to develop a lead-free propellant for use in missile systems. Several lead-free propellant candidate formulations were developed. About five years ago, NSWC, in conjunction with Alliant Techsystems, Radford Army Ammunition Plant, continued ballistic modifier investigations. A four component ballistic modifier system without lead for double-base propellants that provide adequate plateau and mesa burn rate characteristics was developed and patented. The ballistic modifier's system contains bismuth subsalicylate, 1.5 percent; copper salicylate, 1.0 percent, copper stannate, 0.77 percent; and carbon black, 0.1 percent. Action time and impulse data obtained through multiple static firings indicate that the new lead-free double-base propellant, while not a match for NOSIH-AA-2, will be a very suitable replacement in the 2.75 inch Rocket Motor. Accelerated aging of the double-base propellant containing the lead-free ballistic modifier showed that it had a much higher rate of stabilizer depletion than the AA-2. A comprehensive study showed that an increased rate of stabilizer depletion occurred in propellants containing monobasic copper salicylate. The study also showed that propellants containing a mixture of bismuth subsalicylate and copper salicylate, had only about one-half the stabilizer depletion rate than those with copper salicylate alone. The copper salicylate catalyzes the decomposition of nitroglycerin, which triggers a chain of events leading to the increased rate of stabilizer depletion. A program has been initiated to coat the ballistic modifier, thus isolating it from the nitroglycerin.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Magill, B. T.
(Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head, MD United States)
Nauflett, G. W.
(Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head, MD United States)
Furrow, K. W.
(Alliant Techsystems, Inc. Radford, VA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2000
Publication Information
Publication: JANNAF 29th Propellant Development and Characterization Subcommittee Meeting
Subject Category
Propellants And Fuels
Meeting Information
Meeting: Propellant Development and Characterization
Location: Cocoa Beach, FL
Country: United States
Start Date: May 8, 2000
End Date: May 12, 2000
Sponsors: Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, Department of the Air Force, NASA Headquarters
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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