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Nitrocellulose

Nitrocellulose is a white to yellow fiberous material that burns fiercely when lit. It can also be detonated, but this is quite a feat to accomplish. Normally nitrocellulose is rated by its nitrogen content, which is usually between 10-15%. 12% is average power, 13-14% is explosives grade. This synthesis will cover the hexanitrate of nitrocellulose, which is the more powerful one. It is produced by the nitration of cellulose using mixed acids.

[C10H16O10]n + 6HNO3 ----> [C10H10N6O22]n + 6H2O

 

Below is an image of a cellulose molecule that I drew. This is just to give you an idea.

 

Materials
Equipment
>93% Sulfuric Acid 250ml Beaker
70% Nitric Acid Stirring Stick and/or thermometer
Cellulose 1000ml Beaker or similar
Sodium Bicarbonate Thin Cloth (T-shirt)

Into a 250ml beaker, pour 40ml of 93% (or greater concentration) sulfuric acid. To this, add 20ml of 70% nitric acid. Stir this mixture for 20-30 seconds to make sure its completely mixed. This will generate some heat. Let it cool down below 30C. Once it is mixed, add 5g of cellulose in small portions. Stir the mixture after every portion of cellulose. Do not allow the temperature of the beaker to go above 70C. Once all of it is added, set the beaker some place where it will not be disturbed. Leave it here for 2 hours or more, making sure the temperature is around room temp.

After the time is up, fill a 1000ml beaker with 800ml of water. Add all of the contents of the 250ml beaker to the water in the 1000ml beaker. Agitate it with your stirring stick/thermometer. Filter the nitrocellulose out with the peice of cloth, then continuously run hot water over it, turning the nitrocellulose once in a while. After about a minute or two of water flowing over it, make 200ml of a 5% sodium bicarbonate solution, then add the nitrocellulose to this. There should be little to no bubbling. If there is a lot, you didn't rinse the nitrocellulose good enough. Filter this out once again into the cloth, then run water over it for ~30 seconds, constantly turning the nitrocellulose. After this period, shut the water off. Pick up the cloth with the nitrocellulose and squeeze out as much water as possible. Dry the nitrocellulose out in a warm place, such as on top of a refridgerator. Theoretical yeild is 9.6g