TECHNOLOGY

West Point chemists again created medieval gunpowder recipes


Ammunition is made Somewhat like cooking without explosives. In the 14th to 15th centuries, gunpowder makers used black powder imported from China to Europe, then mixed three ingredients together: saltpeter (also known as potassium nitrate), charcoal, and sulfur. But they also improved like some chefs with a splash of brandy, vinegar or varnish.

Now a team of experts from the U.S. Army Military Academy in West Point have recreated these medieval recipes and tested Craft Gunpower on a replica cannon. They found that early gunpowder did a lot of testing to be accurate এবং and it gave them insight into how modern day bomb makers could use similar trial-and-error methods to assemble explosive devices.

The project began when West Point history professor Cliff Rogers was watching Fireworks book (German for “Fireworks Book”), a collected set of anonymous manuscripts. Rogers says the FuelworkBooch Master is a practical handbook for gunners, discussing how to process gunpowder ingredients, how to make it, and how to load and fire a cannon. The manuscripts came together for decades as gunpowder and artillery technology changed rapidly; The book included recipes published from 1336 to 1420, and descriptive words such as “normal,” “good,” and “still good” were used to describe the combustion properties of each mixture.

Rogers asked his fellow chemistry professor, Don Rigner, to fact-check a recipe that included unusual proportions of sulfur, saltpeter, and charcoal. “The main goal was to verify the interpretation of a particular recipe that seemed wrong,” said Rigner, who was the lead author of the team’s paper published in the journal this month. ACS Omega. The problem turned out to be a translation error, not scientific, but it piqued their interest. “Then it became: well, all the other elements that the medieval gunmen kept and what was the thought process?” Says Rigner. “Did these people who didn’t have a chemistry degree know what they were doing? What did they guess about what these new ingredients would do for them, or how their combination would help them?”

Rigner and Rogers decided to recreate these initial recipes and find out if they would still work. A graduate of engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology, Rigner worked in his chemistry lab with his daughter, who was at home during the Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic last year. “We started mixing the ingredients in the lab, starting the dry mixes together,” he recalls. “And then, when needed, when expressed in the recipe, we would also add various wet solutions, be it water or varnish or vinegar.”

Once they have brought a final product, the mother-daughter team places the material in a chamber with pure oxygen to test the gun’s “bomb calorimetry”, a measure of the amount of heat energy produced by its ignition.

This part of the project has faced some obstacles, Rigner said. The ingredients used in the lab were of scientific quality, meaning they were extremely pure. But the sulfur and potassium nitrate used in the 14th and 15th centuries would have been more contaminated. This may be one reason that the gunpowder cook added extra ingredients – the team noticed that, over time, the recipes started using large amounts of sulfur to replace the more expensive saltpeter, which was hard to find. Sulfur needs to be purified, so use other additives, says Riegner.

These can be used to turn the dried ingredients into a wet paste that was then dried and refined with gunpowder. And there is a third theory: Researchers believe that brandy alcohol may also be a complement to the organic compounds in early charcoal charcoal and improve its combustion. But modern day experiments have not been able to accurately determine the effects of these additives, as researchers began with high-quality ingredients. “None of them really improved energy,” Rigner said.



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