https://safirsoft.com Scientists tested medieval gunpowder instructions with a replica of a 15th century cannon

Some sulfur, coal, a lot of salt, etc. are famous for historical weapons as well as fireworks and other pyrotechnic items. An interdisciplinary team of chemists and historians wanted to learn more about how various gunpowder recipes had evolved over the centuries, as major gunsmiths changed key ingredients to achieve better results. The researchers describe their findings in a recent article in the journal ACS Omega. They even tried a number of recipes by firing a replica of a 15th-century stone-throwing cannon at the West Point shooting range—you know.

Gunpowder, also known as black powder, is chemically simple enough. It is a mixture of sulfur and coal (carbon) used as a fuel and potassium nitrate (KNO3), an oxidizing agent also known as salt. It was first used for warfare in China around AD 904, and its use spread throughout Europe and Asia in the late 13th century. Modern black powder recipes require 75% salt, 15% charcoal, and 10% sulfur. But medieval gunsmiths experimented with different recipes over the centuries, many of which included additives such as camphor, shellac or brandy, and their purpose is still unknown.

In the late 14th century, manufacturers discovered that the performance of gunpowder could be improved through a wet grinding process called Corning. When the other ingredients are ground together, some liquid (often distilled spirits) is added to make a moist paste. The dough is rolled into a ball before use and then dried, and the balls are crushed into the ground by a gunner before being used in a mortar. It was widely used in Europe in the fifteenth century. The standard method involves grinding the material with slurry and straw and reducing this material to a fine powder can take up to 24 hours. The smaller the grain size and the more complete the mixing, the faster and more effective the gunpowder. Respectively, the chemist and historian at the US Military Academy (known as West Point) decided to analyze the energy released before and during combustion by various types of gunpowder instructions in the Middle Ages. Together with their other authors, they hoped to better understand the purpose of creating the various formulas and to become more familiar with the technical details of the early stages of gunpowder production.

They first identified more than 20 cases. Various instructions were recorded in medieval texts between 1336 and 1449 CE and he followed these instructions to prepare different classes of gunpowder. Rigner et al. The helical and angular samples were tested with a bomb thermometer to record the relative heat of combustion and reaction rate. They used differential scaling to measure the onset of combustion (initial ignition) and the combustion release rate, as well as to analyze the residues of each instruction to determine the effectiveness of combustion. The team also compared different sample preparation methods and efficacy of instructions with and without additives, as well as conducting shooting trials on the ball field.

The team found that between 1338 and 1400 CE the instructions increased. Reduces the salt content and the amount of charcoal. This reduces the heat of combustion, but is much safer for medieval shooters on the battlefield. After 1400, the gunners tweaked the relative ingredients a bit more, lowered the salt a bit, and increased the sulfur and charcoal significantly, perhaps to find the right balance between shooter safety and the heat of combustion.

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“The Need for Safer Guidelines”

“The authors wrote: “It has been suggested that one reason for the change in the gunpowder use instructions over time is the need for “Safer recipes that do not display cannon Medieval endanger or damage cannons.” They assert: “They probably did not use these instructions because they have high thermodynamic activity.” Of camphor and ammonium chloride, the authors suggest that water or brandy, for example, the authors wrote that a practical understanding of the variables affecting On the effective potency of gunpowder includes the purity of raw materials, types of coal, grain size and mixing methods. “They realized, for example, pressure gas-fired cannon shells, not flames, and pot-prepared willow. The packaging is much better than oak made in a conventional pit.”

However, Rigner and others support these changes because of the changes Physical in the artillery used during the same period (gun size, types of fire and powder loads, for example).

According to the authors, more research is needed to determine the best recipe for specific historical contexts. They plan to conduct further studies with different techniques that will help them compare the level and distance between the ingredients of different recipes, which should clarify medieval processing methods, especially Corning.

DOI: ACS Omega, 2021. 10.1021 / acsomega.1c03380 (about DOIs).

Scientists tested medieval gunpowder instructions with a replica of a 15th century cannon
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