Army

Reduced toxicity, slow-rate pyrotechnic strobe composition

A pyrotechnic that pulses only once per minute while also being less toxic and more environmentally friendly

Materials Military Technology

Scientists at the U.S. Army’s CCDC Chemical Biological Center have recently invented a reduced toxicity chemical composition that flashes on and off at an extremely slow rate that can be used for flares, stun grenades, and other devices. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

Army photo

The most common composition that creates a pyrotechnic strobe effect includes potassium dichromate, a highly toxic material to both humans and the environment. In addition, strobe mixtures typically produce about five pulses per second due to the speed of the chemical reaction. Creation of a composition with a slower pulse rate has proved difficult and unreliable.

Army researchers have addressed both of these limitations by developing a new pyrotechnic strobe composition that pulses only once per minute while also being less toxic and more environmentally friendly than conventional strobe formulations. The chemical reaction includes a three component system — sodium nitrite as the oxidizer, and magnalium and sulfur as the fuels — that results in two competing reactions to produce a bright strobe flash. The composition can be inserted into the canister of a flare, a grenade, a smoke pot, mortar or an artillery round.

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