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Burning properties and mechanical integrity of aged gun propellants

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Author: Driel, C.A. van · Klerk, W.P.C. de
Source:Carleone J.Orphal D., 20th International Symposium on Ballistics. 23 September 2002 through 27 September 2002, 321-328
Identifier: 782378
ISBN: 1932078118 781932078114
Keywords: Defence · Ballistics · Explosives · Propellants · Thermodynamic stability · Defence Research · Defence, Safety and Security · 2015 Observation, Weapon & Protection Systems · EM - Energetic Materials · TS - Technical Sciences


Conventional gun propellants exhibit the phenomenon of nitrocellulose (NC) decomposition. Besides an effect on thermal stability of propellants, decomposition of NC has an effect on the mechanical integrity of the propellant grains. Enhanced grain fracture may lead to unacceptable changes of the pressure build-up. The effect of ageing on NC molecular weight, mechanical properties and performance has been investigated for the main propellants of 155-mm cartridge-bags. Grain fracture appears to affect the peak pressure much more than the muzzle velocity. This effect is strongly related to the loading density and can for a great part be explained by internal ballistic simulations.