Thursday, July 03, 2008

Greener Fireworks?

Environmentally friendly fireworks are available but it might be awhile before they can compete with cheaper Chinese imports. After all, the Chinese did invent gunpowder. Now there is a replacement that is relatively smoke free and does not use potassium perchlorate, an oxidant. Perchlorate mixed with charcoal and sulfur fuel is responsible for speeding up the fuel burning process and creating the fiery effects. Unfortunately, perchlorate is linked to thyroid damage. Pyrotechnics can often include potentially toxic color-producing heavy metals such as barium magnesium and copper. Red color results from the use of the chemical element strontium, blue from copper, gold from a sodium, orange from calcium and green from barium.

DMD Systems based in Ojo Caliente, New Mexico has produced a perchlorate-free substitute it calls nitrocellulose that burns with little smoke and "no fallout or residual combustion byproducts." Nitrocellulose has its own oxygen so it does not require a lot of additional oxidants and it burns cleanly. (The Washington Times, 7/2/08)

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