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Most colored signal flare compositions contain perchlorate oxidizers. Residual perchlorates from these devices may be absorbed into groundwater and require remediation. Ground water contamination by perchlorates from rocket propellants, pyrotechnics, and other sources has been found to be a serious problem in the western United States and elsewhere. At least two military training ranges have already been forced to close due to perchlorate contamination and others are in danger of suffering a similar fate. Accordingly, many states are taking a proactive approach to convince the EPA to set the maximum perchlorate level in drinking water as low as possible to ensure adequate protection of fetuses and newborns.
Navy scientists and engineers have developed new compositions based on various nitrates as replacements for perchlorates. Since nitrate oxidizers are less reactive than perchlorate oxidizers, high-energy fuels are required to make up for this energy shortfall. In the novel formulation for producing a green flare, magnesium, boron and copper are combined with a barium nitrate oxidizer. A polyvinyl chloride color enhancer and a two-part binder is added. With this formulation, Navy tests of luminosity and burn time exceeded those of perchlorate-containing flares.
- Formulation can be mixed in a bowl and pressed into pellets or candles
- Formulations can be tuned for luminosity, burn time, dominant wavelength, and color purities
- Formulations do not have significantly increased ignition sensitivity to impact, rotary friction, or electrostatic stimuli
- US patent 7,988,801 available for license
- Potential for collaboration with Navy researchers