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Thread: Reliable smokeless powder ignition?

  1. #1
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    Reliable smokeless powder ignition?

    So, can you reliably ignite smokeless gunpowder by making very big sparks go into it? I assume it has to have a temperature where it starts burning, so a big spark theoretically should ignite it..

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    What are you using to make the spark?

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    IIRC the ignition point of nitrocellulose is 170C 5 degrees. The nitroglycerin temp of explosion depends on the dilution. Rule of thumb is that since the burning of the NC is enough to cause detonation the pressure wave will detonate the NG as well. Again, IIRC the specific heat of NC is approx .4 or .5 but with the addition of the NG that would change. Quite frankly without finding my old college texts that's as accurate as I can get. For some reason my profs seemed to prefer their students products not explode. Strange attitude, I know but what can you do?

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    I'm just thinking about it. I'd probably have to use some part from a photo flash to get really high voltage, and I imagine sturdy, graphite electrodes would be best.

    Really.. it's for a project I have that's years away.. but it keeps me up at night.

    Imagine not having to buy primers... ever again, for your sports rifle.

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    Imagine not having to buy primers... ever again, for your sports rifle.
    Hmmm, you need to remember that when dealing with propellants you are working with what is essentially dynamites. Nitrogen Iodide, stabilized with corn starch, has enough of a pressure wave to detonate that type. NI3 is simple enough to manufacture. Lead azide doesn't take all that much equipment or experience either for that matter and would be far more reliable than the NI3. Or if you REALLY have a sense of adventure fulminate of mercury will always excite your propellant molecules enough to break their bonds. However, fulminate of mercury has a very bad habit of going off before you tell it to. But to each their own. If I was forced to, however, I think I would use the tips of "strike anywhere" matches and trade the loss of power for stability. But I'm a bit cowardly when it comes to that sort of thing.

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    Point is, I want to find out how to reliably ignite nitrocellulose powder without any of these. Just by heating up a bit of it..

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    Point is, I want to find out how to reliably ignite nitrocellulose powder without any of these. Just by heating up a bit of it..
    In that case, you have electronic ignition but that's been done to death.

    My uncle's personal favorite- compression of a low pressure dieseling fuel gas that jets into a touchhole of the cartridge

    or a piezo-electric system.

    Or if you want to get truly exotic use a laser to heat the powder. Of course you would have to hunt close to power lines or have an extension cord many miles long.

    The compressed jet system is less than reliable but gives the added benefit of adding more heat to the overall system.

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    Done to death? So how come I can't waltz into the nearest gun store and buy a semiautomatic rifle that uses just bullets and powder to fire? And some seals occassionally have to be changed too..

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    Done to death? So how come I can't waltz into the nearest gun store and buy a semiautomatic rifle that uses just bullets and powder to fire? And some seals occassionally have to be changed too..
    Because even though every major designer and more than a few minor ones have tried to develop a working system to date no one has. Besides, the way most people's luck run... they would have the perfect bead on the perfect deer under perfect shooting conditions... And the batteries would be dead...

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    @OW
    You know.. battery technology has improved a lot since WWII or so.

    But sure Joe Q.Public would be liable to end up with dead batteries, due to not paying enough attention to reading the manual and charging. And you can have really big batteries these day, that last years. Dad just bought some.. Nimh, but the charge keeps for years.
    Also it'd be possible to make a crank charger, that'd with a bit of work would give you energy for a few shots.

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    Because even though every major designer and more than a few minor ones have tried to develop a working system to date no one has.
    That's not correct. GE did it. M61 and M197 automatic guns fire 20mm electrically primed ammunition.

    Remington also did it with the EtronX system, which made it to serial production and retail sales in 2000. It did not sell well, but I can't say for sure whether it was the technical merits, consumer inertia or just bad marketing that did it.

    Also, the most effective of the Russian "condom launchers" (less-lethal guns firing rubber bullets), "OSA", uses electric ignition powered either by a battery or an impulse generator, depending on model.
    ...there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed;
    and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience
    willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be
    secure among armed servants. Because, there being in the one disdain
    and in the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to work well together.

    Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XIV

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    That's not correct. GE did it. M61 and M197 automatic guns fire 20mm electrically primed ammunition.
    Pardon moi, nobody has managed for small arms.

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    Pardon moi, nobody has managed for small arms.
    A Remington 700 EtronX in 220 Swift is hardly a crew served weapon. Haven't heard of one mounted to a plane or a vehicle, either.

    Lack of commercial success doesn't mean it doesn't work.
    ...there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed;
    and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience
    willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be
    secure among armed servants. Because, there being in the one disdain
    and in the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to work well together.

    Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XIV

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    A Remington 700 EtronX in 220 Swift is hardly a crew served weapon.
    I yield to your superior knowledge.

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    EtronX is just electronic hammer.. not electronic ignition. I'm interested in whether it's possible to dispense with the primer absolutely. No primer at all, just gunpowder and bullet.

    I've seen a one off muzzleloading target pistol, but it uses a hot wire instead of sparks. Takes longer, so it's not a good solution.

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    Electric ignition of smokeless powder depends on a priming compound that is fired by an electrical impulse instead of percussion. I do not know of any project to directly ignite smokeless powder.
    There is a muzzleloader - the CVA Electra - with battery ignition but I don't know if it is by an arc or hot wire like a glow plug.

    See the spark generator vs black powder at:
    http://www.ctmuzzleloaders.com/ctml_...ks/sparks.html
    I have a few facts and a lot of opinions.

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    The Voere rifle is electronically fired.

    http://www.gunsinternational.com/Voe...n_id=100153070

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanius
    EtronX is just electronic hammer.. not electronic ignition.
    Nope. The "firing pin" is just a contact, not a striker. A cartridge with a regular primer will not fire in the Etronx rifle. There is a primer, but it's filled with carbon to conduct spark to the powder.

    Quote Originally Posted by KodiakBeer
    The Voere rifle is electronically fired.
    I was looking for that on the Voere site, but couldn't find it. I think they quit making it.
    ...there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed;
    and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience
    willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be
    secure among armed servants. Because, there being in the one disdain
    and in the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to work well together.

    Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XIV

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    Lanius,

    Where it looks like you are going with the carbon rods and that kind of thing means that you are going to have to have an OPEN pathway to the powder.

    Which defeats most of the good points of self contained cartridges and gets you right back to the problem with repeater muzzle loaders, lack of gas seal.

    Buckshot

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    Well... Chassepots used rubber seals. Today, you could some other high temperature enduring polymer. Polymers are cheap.. cheaper than primers.

    Electrodes could be encased in ceramics and prodtrude into the chamber from behind.

    I know such guns will be harder engineering, but that's not a valid reason for not thinking about it, mmkay?

  21. #21
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    Well, you could get real radical and abandon the idea of any sort of separate ignition. How about a diesel gun?
    ...there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed;
    and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience
    willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be
    secure among armed servants. Because, there being in the one disdain
    and in the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to work well together.

    Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XIV

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    @WhiteHorseradish

    Actually, my gesichtsbuch profile has liquid propellant guns listed as interest.

    Who knows, if they don't chuck me out of school for half-arsing it, I'll probably be designing a liquid propellant prototype gun for my engineering degree final project.

    IMO, ignition is necessary, because injecting a lot of fuel into the chamber will likely shake the gun, disturbing aim. So it'd be better to have a design where the chamber can be ready to fire, no pumping needed.

  23. #23
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    Injecting fuel won't be too disturbing. The fuel needs to be atomized, so the mass isn't that great. Compressing it to ignite it might be a shaky proposition.
    ...there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed;
    and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience
    willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be
    secure among armed servants. Because, there being in the one disdain
    and in the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to work well together.

    Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XIV

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    Injecting fuel won't be too disturbing. The fuel needs to be atomized, so the mass isn't that great. Compressing it to ignite it might be a shaky proposition.
    Not really, good old Rudy Diesel solved that little problem around 1893.

    One of my uncle's designs featured a "cartridge" made of plasticized propellant. When the cartridge was seated, a hollow tube was passed through a guide in the breech block to rest on the back of the cartridge. Acetylene was introduced into the tube then compressed by adding air until the mixture ignited thus forcing a jet of hot gas through the tube to the propellant.

    How successful the design was (or if it work at all) I have idea none as my Dad tended to keep me away from that part of the farm when my uncle was experimenting. Unfortunately, the old man kept the design notes in his head. Or at least I've never found it in his lab notes.

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    It takes a lot of power to compress something. There is a lot of excess power in running engine, but in a gun, you only have power if you've just fired something.

    My idea would be to use welding oxygen as pressure medium and oxidizer, use that to inject hydrocarbon fuel under high pressure into a chamber where it'd wait for the trigger pull. Or use some mechanical system to pack gunpowder into chambers, like battleships used to do.. (yes, I know they used cordite in bales. Maybe gunpowder pellets would be better than loose powder)

    Trigger would send an impulse and ignite the propellant. In the liquid fuel design, you'd have to be able to keep the chamber under pressure until it's time to go. So there'd have to be a separate valve between barrel and combustion chamber.

    So I think trying to find out how to ignite gunpowder without primers is the way to go. Such a weapon would be less finicky, less of a fire hazard, and could be almost purely mechanical, apart from the electronic ignition.

    Once I hand in this airgun valve I'm supposed to think up, I'll try interesting the company in the caseless weapon idea. So they could build a sports rifle that'd much cheaper to fire.

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