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36 Responses to I Don’t Know What This Video Proves But It Sure Is Cool (So to Speak)

  1. Not sure there is a point, but I would not be the guy dropping the glowing hot ball in the powder. Still cool to watch from the safety of this side of the camera!

    • Well, honestly, you’re worrying about nothing. As long as you aren’t igniting a pile of gunpowder large enough that it can create it’s own compression inside the pile, this exact same thing happens; You get a flame and a lot of smoke.

      I wouldn’t go lighting off a 5 gal. Bucket of powder, but a couple ounces like this is “safe.”

      • We did that once. My brother had a FFL for manufacturing amuntion. When he was no longer doing it and didn’t have an FFL and he was moving, we needed to dispose of a butt load of fairly old powder. So…..you light it of fire! That’s what brothers do. We just made a big pile of powder on the ground. I remember it made a huge fire with flames at least 15-20 feet high. That was really cool, for a very short time. It seems it lasted….oh, 15 seconds and was burned up.

    • What it does show is a little thing called “initiation energy” which every first year chemistry student knows is hugely important to getting chemical reactions, both endothermic and exothermic to happen as and when intended. This is showing what could happen if your ammo were cooled to ridiculously low temps. You could expect (among other things) for the powder to not light off either consistently or with the ferocity that you expected.

      • If you and your gun are at liquid N2 temperatures ( -321degF), whether or not your powder burns evenly or as fiercely as normal would be the least of your concerns.

        • I *highly* recommend NOT chilling the barrel to cryogenic temps before firing it.

          That barrel will be very brittle and may shatter like those really nasty ceramic grenades, into sharp shards.

    • “I’m not sure the LN2 actually contributed to the final reaction. Maybe it slowed it down a bit.”

      The unintended consequence of chilling the powder cold will be condensation soaking into the powder, likely slowing it down like damp gunpowder would…

  2. If he’d just dropped the glowing orb into the liquid nitrogen it would have been much more exciting, and the video probably would have ended very abruptly.

      • If you know someone who works at a heavy machinery repair shop, check with them.

        They use it to shrink-fit metals.

        And don’t do it in a closed room, have plenty of ventilation.

        • And don’t do it in a closed room, have plenty of ventilation.

          I’ll second that.

          People die, painlessly and without warning, when breathing pure nitrogen. Your body doesn’t realize it’s not getting oxygen. (Your “I’m suffocating” reflex comes from accumulating CO2 that isn’t getting disposed, not depleting oxygen. In an N2 atmosphere, of course you have no trouble exhaling CO2.)

        • For those unaware, LN2 has about a 700 to one expansion ratio.

          It will do something like this:

          “1981: Five technicians are asphyxiated while setting up a ground test for the space shuttle Columbia, then in preparation for STS-1, the first operational shuttle mission.”

          “The accident occurred during a nitrogen purge of the orbiter. John Bjornstad, 50, one of the five Rockwell International technicians who entered a rear section of the orbiter above the engine, died en route to the hospital. The second fatality, Forrest Cole, died two weeks later.”

          http://www.wired.com/2009/03/march-19-1981-shuttle-columbias-first-fatalities/

    • @ Dr Brainwash
      Generally any company that sells compressed gases, like oxygen, acetylene, welding supplies, inert gasses etc. that is a decent size business will probably have liquid nitrogen also. I use it on occasion. A thermos can be used for transporting. Either leave the cap loose for venting or drill a small hole in it. Sometimes the seller can be fussy about the container they put it in due to liability issues. I’ve used the same thermos a dozen times without having a hole in the cap, just leaving it screwed on by a couple threads so that it can vent. The last time I went to fill it, the place I usually use refused to fill it because it didn’t have a hole in the cap. They were a little bit of knobs over it, so I drove around the block to the other gas business and they filled it.

  3. Considering that nitrogen is relatively inert and does not support combustion, all this proves is the gunpowder burns at really low temperatures. Try marinating the gunpowder in liquid oxygen, then see what happens, if anything.

    • I do not believe it does anything other than help cube the powder to make larger sparks.

      Unsolicited old guy information of the day. Nitrogen expands 720% by volume and displaces oxygen in a confined space. Thin plastic water bottles get a micro dot of liquid nitrogen just before capping. It expands and strengthens the bottle while using 30% less material.

    • Pure oxygen atmospheres are very volatile. Mixing an explosive with liquid oxygen sounds like a really bad idea to me.

      • Yes. Very bad idea. From doing trap to trap distillations of gasses using LN2, dry ice and various other low temperature baths, we learned that you have to be very careful not to get any liquid air (N2+O2) in your LN2 trap (i.e. your system has a pin hole leak). If so the organic gas youre distilling can spontaneously detonate. Liquid oxygen is very dangerous.

  4. That doesn’t really seem to be any different than a conventional burn of powder. I was kind of thinking it would slow it more.

  5. I don’t know what is going on. The black stuff looks like rice being cooked, and I don’t know what the round glowing thing is but I like it.

  6. So pretty much exactly what would happen if you ignited a bowl of black powder at room temperature, with a slightly slower ignition.

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