This invention relates generally to propellants, and, more specifically,
to combustible elastomeric containers for propellants.
Combustible containers for propellant compositions in commercial
use at the present time typically are fabricated by a felting process utilizing
paper or cardboard materials. An illustrative container material is KRAFT paper
employing 13.4 percent nitrogen-containing nitrocellulose, and the paper can be
coated, impregnated or dipped to incorporate various optional additives as desired.
Among the disadvantages of prior art combustible containers is the
tendency to leave a burn residue in the combustion chamber of guns, as well as
to be more water permeable during propellant storage than might be desired. Accordingly,
new containers which are cleaner burning during use and which provide enhanced
water impermeability during propellant storage would be highly desired by the
propellant manufacturing community.
In one aspect, the present invention relates to a process for producing
an encased propellant which comprises overwrapping at least one charge of propellant
with an elastomeric coating composition. Preferably the coating composition is
free of any cellulosic compound.
In another aspect, the present invention relates to an encased propellant
comprising a propellant charge overwrapped with an elastomeric coating composition.
These and other aspects of the present invention will become apparent
upon reading the following detailed description of the invention.
The propellant suitable for encasing in a container within the scope
of the present invention is suitably a high energy material such as, for example,
RDX, NTO, TNT, HMX, TAGN, nitroguanidine, nitrocellulose, nitroglycerine and ammonium
nitrate. Nitrocellulose propellants may be single-base or multi-base, as described
for example in U.S. Patent 4,950,342, and these materials are commercially available
as Olin Corporation's Ball Powder®. Energetic plasticizers are suitably employed
in the fabrication of the propellant, including, for example, nitroglycerine,
diethylene glycol dinitrate, butane triol trinitrate, and the like.
The present invention is based upon the discovery that elastomeric
compositions can be fabricated to provide a desired degree of toughness to withstand
shock and abrasion during handling, as well as to provide desired water impermeability,
and also be clean burning during use as a propellant casing. Although not wishing
to be limited, the encased propellants of the present invention are expected to
be useful in the form of tank ammunition, and the like.
The casings useful in the present invention can be fabricated to
contain the desired elastomeric composition, alone or in combination with other
additives such as oxidizers, e.g., potassium nitrate. The elastomeric composition
is appropriately fabricated using a thermoplastic or thermosetting polymer. Suitable
polymers include polyurethanes, polyacrylates, phenolics, and combinations thereof,
and the like. The preferred polymers are the polyurethanes.
The casing utilized in the present invention is suitably fabricated
to overwrap the propellant using any of the well-known coating techniques including,
for example, casting, reaction injection molding, dipping, spraying, or the like.
A single layer or a multi-layer casing is suitably employed as desired. For example,
a two-layer casing can be utilized to provide specific characteristics based upon
the advantageous properties of each of the layers. As an illustration, a thermoplastic
polyethylene overwrap or a spray coating of a butyl rubber can be used to provide
an inner-layer moisture barrier to the casing, and this can be used in combination
with a thermosetting polyurethane overwrap to provide a tough outer layer to the
The casing is usefully fabricated using optional additives, including
oxidizers, burn rate modifiers, stabilizers, fillers, and the like, as desired
in order to enhance the desired toughness, combustion profile, or other desired
characteristics of the casing. The optional additives are generally present in
a total amount of less than 50 weight percent based upon the weight of the casing.
The casing is preferably free of any cellulosic compound in order to provide a
clean burning casing.
In the fabrication of the preferred class of polyurethane casings,
any desired polyol may be employed as desired. The various classes of suitable
polyols are well-known, and these include polyether polyols, polyester polyols,
polymer/polyols, hydroxy-terminated polyisocyanate prepolymers, and the like.
Any desired polyisocyanate is also suitably employed in the fabrication
of polyurethane casings, including aromatic polyisocyanates such as tolulene diisocyanate
("TDI"), methylene diphenylene diisocyanate ("MDI"), as well as aliphatic polyisocyanates.
Suitable aliphatic isocyanates include those identified by the empirical structural
wherein R is a divalent aliphatic group having between 2 and 20 carbon atoms; a
divalent cycloalkyl group having between 3 and 9 carbon atoms; or a divalent alkylcycloalkyl
having between 5 and 20 carbon atoms. Typical examples of suitable organic diisocyanates
include aliphatic diisocyanates such as: ethylene, trimethylene, tetramethylene,
pentamethylene, hexamethylene, heptamethylene, up to icosamethylene; 1,2-propylene,
1,3-butylene, 2,3-butylene, 1,3-butylene, ethylidine, and butylidine diisocyanates;
cycloalkylene diisocyanates such as 1,3-cyclopentene, 1,4-cyclohexene, 1,2-cyclohexene
diisocyanate; cycloalkane diisocyanates such as cyclopentyl, cyclohexyl, and cycloheptyl
diisocyanate; alkylcycloalkyl diisocyanates such as methylcyclopentyl, methylcyclohxyl,
dimethylcyclohexyl, isophorone diisocyanate.
The duration and temperature of the coating process and the amount
of the applied deterrent polymer are variable within the given limits depending
upon the exact composition of the nitrocellulose propellant composition and the
end use to which it is applied.
The following examples are intended to illustrate, but in no way
limit the scope of, the present invention.
Fabrication of a Molded Casing Using Cast Polyurethane
A mixture was made of DESMOPHENE 1150, a branched polyol with ether
and ester linkages, which is a product of Mobay Chemical, and MONDUR MRS5 polyisocyanate
in a weight ratio of 2:1. This mixture was cast around a cylinder of compacted
Ball Powder® in a mold which is the diameter of the particular gun chamber
for which the change is desired. The mold with the cast polymer was cured in an
oven overnight to give the final encased cartridge.
As an alternative, the compacted Ball Powder® may be, if desired,
coated first with an inert material such as butyl rubber, impregnated cheesecloth
or some similar material. The mold is typically treated with a mold-release agent
for ease of disengagement. If desired, the urethane mixture may contain an oxidizer
such as potassium nitrate, RDX or some other material to aid in complete combustion
of the cartridge material.
Preparation of Another Casing Composition
A prepolymer was made by heating a mixture of 2.44 g 1,1'-methylenebis
(isocyanatobenzene) (MDI) and 453.1 g POLY -G 20-56 (A -2000 molecular weight polyether
diol from Olin Corp.) to 80°C for 3 hours under a nitrogen atmosphere. The free
isocyanate was determined to be 8.78% by back titration of a dibutylamine/prepolymer
mixture with 0.1 N hydrochloric acid.
The prepolymer (151.2 g) was degassed under vacuum with stirring.
The system was flushed with nitrogen and butanediol (BDO) (13.82 g) added. The
mixture was evacuated and stirred for 10 minutes. The system was flushed with
nitrogen and the mixture poured out into a mold and placed in a 110°C oven overnight
(16 hours) to form a molded casing.
Fabrication of Another Casing Composition
Potassium nitrate (KNO&sub3;) was ground to a fine powder using a
mortar and pestle. The KNO&sub3; was dried in an oven at 60°C. The prepolymer of
Example 2 (103.5 g) and the dried KNO&sub3; (37.67 g) were placed into the reactor
and degassed under vacuum with stirring. The system was flushed with nitrogen and
butanediol (BDO) 9.46 g) was added. The mixture was evacuated and stirred for
10 minutes. The system was flushed with nitrogen and the mixture poured out into
a mold and placed in a 110°C oven overnight (16 hours) to form a molded casing.