Pyroxylin Powder

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pyroxylin Powder


a variety of smokeless powder used in firearms.

Pyroxylin powder was invented in 1884 in France by P. Vieille. In Russia, pyroxylin powder and the technology for its production were introduced in the period from 1887 to 1890 by D. I. Mendeleev and the engineers of the Okhta Powder Factory.

Pyroxylin powder is produced from cellulose nitrate with a nitrogen content of more than 12 percent (pyroxylin) and with additives that impart special properties to the powder. The powder elements, in the form of plates or single-channel and multichannel tubes, are manufactured by pressing cellulose nitrate that has been plasticized with a volatile solvent (usually an alcohol-ether mixture), with subsequent cutting and drying, during which the plasticizing solvent is removed from the powder. Pyroxylin powder usually contains 91–96 percent cellulose nitrate, 1.2–5.0 percent volatile substances (alcohol, ether and water), 1.0–1.5 percent stabilizer (diphenylamine), 2–6 percent retardant, and 0.2–0.3 percent graphite and flame suppressants. The density of the powder ranges from 1.56 to 1.64 g/cm3, and the heat of combustion, from 3.0 to 4.5 megajoules per kg. Upon powerful initiation, pyroxylin powder detonates reliably, both when dry and when soaked with water.


Gorst, A. G. Porokha i vzryvchatye veshchestva, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.