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smokeless powder:see explosiveexplosive,
substance that undergoes decomposition or combustion with great rapidity, evolving much heat and producing a large volume of gas. The reaction products fill a much greater volume than that occupied by the original material and exert an enormous pressure, which can be
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a low explosive whose basic component is nitrocellulose, plasticized by one of several organic solvents. Smokeless powder is a hard, corniculate substance, similar to plastic; it is manufactured in the form of so-called powder elements—disks, tapes, grains, tubes, and so on. It is very durable and can burn steadily without blowing up under high pressure (tens or hundreds of meganewtons per sq m—that is, hundreds or thousands of kilogram-force per sq cm). The basic types of smokeless powder are ballistite, cordite, and pyroxylin powders; they differ mainly in the technology of production, in the solvents used, and in the kind of nitrocellulose. Smokeless powder is significantly superior to black powder in its burning stability and efficiency. It is used in all types of firearms, in rocket engines using solid fuel, and for other purposes. The first smokeless powder—pyroxylin powder—was invented in 1884 by the French engineer P. Vieille.