Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

Military Applications

HC smoke is used by the U.S. military in a wide variety of munitions, some of which are shown in Table 5-1. HC smoke is produced by burning a mixture containing roughly equal parts of HCE and ZnO and approximately 6% granular aluminum.

Combustion Products

The smoke mixture in a smoke bomb or grenade is initially ignited by a pyrotechnic starter mixture. The reaction is self-perpetuating and exothermic. The overall reaction was summarized by Cichowicz (1983):

Another reaction produces carbon monoxide instead of solid carbon. ZnCl2 leaves the reaction zone as a hot vapor. On cooling below the condensation point, it nucleates to form an aerosol that rapidly absorbs water from the surrounding atmosphere. Hydrated ZnCl2 particles then scatter light, thereby obscuring vision. Because of ZnCl2's affinity for water, the aerosol likely consists of the hydrated forms of ZnCl2 under most atmospheric conditions (Katz et al. 1980). A starter mixture containing silicon, potassium nitrate, charcoal, iron oxide, granular aluminum, cellulose nitrate, and acetone, which is required to initiate the reaction, might generate very small amounts of other airborne contaminants. However, the acute toxic effects of exposure to HC smoke are considered to arise primarily from inhalation of the ZnCl2 component, which comprises almost two thirds of the total mass of HC smoke (Table 5-2). All measurements of HC smoke are expressed in this chapter as milligrams of ZnCl2, unless noted otherwise.

The munitions listed in Table 5-1 all use slightly different chemical mixtures (Novak et al. 1987). An analysis of trace materials

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement