of nitrocellulose (NC) to the final packaging of the finished powder, but did not have the opportunity to observe the ballistics testing. Each step of the manufacturing process is isolated in its own individual building in order to minimize damage and injury in the event of an accident.

Smokeless Powder Overview

The major ingredients of smokeless powder include NC and nitroglycerin (NG). Minor ingredients consist of stabilizers, plasticizers, flash suppressants, deterrents, and dyes and opacifiers. Other minor ingredients include graphite glaze, bore erosion reduction coatings, and ignition aid coatings. Together, the minor ingredients make up roughly 2 or 3 percent of the finished powder. The major monitored characteristics of gun propellants are bum-rate characteristics, geometry, and propellant design for specific applications. New River has a few hundred smokeless powder formulations, of which roughly 60 to 70 are in active use. There are 13 different Alliant reloading powder types.

New River Energetics Powder Process

The process employed by Alliant Techsystems for the production of smokeless powder begins with the dehydration of 28 percent water-wet NC by replacement of the water with ethyl alcohol. The dehydrated NC in the form of blocks is broken up, and a portion is mixed with NG to form a pre-mix. A weighed amount of pre-mix, together with ''broken'' NC is added to a mixer and is mixed with solvents and other ingredients to form the specific powder. This is followed by extrusion/cutting and then coating/glazing. The powder is then dried, screened, and homogenized. Subsequent to the mixing step, contamination between different formulations of smokeless powder is possible. The powder is packed into sublots and placed in a rest house. The ballistics are tested, and a final blend sequence occurs before packing and shipping the powders. In the final blending, a nonconforming part of the lot could be pulled out and reworked later. Production of a 10,000-pound lot is performed in approximately 1,000-pound increments. Products in the rest house could go to 10 to 15 different products. There is a potential for and likely small, inevitable amounts of contamination during each of these stages.

To aid in identifying certain powders to reloaders, Alliant manufactures grades of smokeless powders that contain dyed powder particles. These include Red-, Blue-, and Green-Dot smokeless powders. The dyed particles make up about 1 percent of the total mixture and are ballistically identical to the powders to which they are added. The dyed blends are produced separately and are mixed into the undyed products at the final blend.

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