News | Jul 3, 2019

These pyrotechnics aren’t part of your 4th of July celebration, but they should be

The U.S. military uses flares in training and combat. During night operations, flares are fired from grenade launchers, mortars, and artillery. After bursting in the air, tiny parachutes deploy, holding flares aloft and illuminated the area below.

Other flares are used to distract heat-seeking missiles from aircraft. And another type, known as star clusters, are used to signal friendly forces during the day or night.

And smoke grenades, in a variety of colors, are used to mark landing zones for helicopters.

But the pyrotechnic compositions invented by the military also make for great fireworks. Businesses, large or small, can license the patented pyrotechnics below and use them to manufacture better products than what you’ll see on the Fourth of July.

Perchlorate-free green flares

Like fireworks, most rockets, flares, and other pyrotechnics contain perchlorate, a chemical used as an oxidizer. The problem is it's toxic. So, Navy scientists have developed new compositions based on various nitrates as replacements for perchlorates. This one is green. Can your business manufacture it? We need to talk to you.

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Perchlorate-free red signal flare composition

Many flare compositions include chlorate or perchlorate oxidizers. Residual perchlorates from these devices may be absorbed into groundwater and require remediation, this patented formula doesn't.

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Perchlorate-free yellow signal flare composition

We've got yellow compositions too. The formula limits the environmentally objectionable perchlorate ingredients while still providing acceptable performance when compared to in-service signal flare compositions.

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News Article Image of These pyrotechnics aren’t part of your 4th of July celebration, but they should be

Safer, more environmentally friendly smoke screens

Army scientists have developed a pyrotechnic formulation to generate a smoke screen for obscuring effects and for ground-to-air signaling which provides excellent smoke effects but produces less toxic products than the conventional formulations.

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Single canister selectable color smoke grenade

This invention from the Army's Chemical Biological Center is a selectable color smoke grenade for producing different color smokes from a single grenade canister. Each smoke grenade includes an upper chamber that holds gas producing material and a fuze, one or more dye chambers, a plug positioned between the dye chambers, and a mixing chamber.

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Flameless smoke pot

In 2014 the Army received a U.S. patent for this device. The smoke pot includes a casing having a side wall with air inlet openings and containing a plurality of perforated tubes containing red phosphorous pellets. A heat generating pyrotechnic composition is disposed at a first end of the casing to generate heat which flows through the perforated tubes containing red phosphorous pellets to produce white phosphoric acid clouds of smoke.

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Pyrotechnic thermite composition

From the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane Division comes this thermite formulation for use in thermite torch applications made up of from about three percent by weight to about 35 percent by weight Magnesium-Aluminum alloy, from about 30 percent by weight to about 70 percent by weight Copper Oxide, and from about 15 percent by weight to about 35 percent by weight Molybdenum Trioxide.

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TechLink is the Department of Defense’s national partnership intermediary for technology transfer. TechLink’s staff of experienced licensing professionals guide businesses through the evaluation and licensing of inventions developed by the federal government–services provided at no charge.

We hope you have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Headshot Image of Austin Leach, PhD, CLP

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