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The Chemistry of Fireworks

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ireciel, firstly sorry i had corected the essay and thought that i sent it off tuesday, however i just check and this doesn't seem the case. it at this stage is very good just some minor alterations these include: figure 1 doesn't fit it doesn't show wha has been described above it table 5 you need some lead in reference to this in the text, yopu can not just stick tables in without relating to them again table s8,9 and 10 need to be mentioned in the main text first. as does the picture of the fire crackers were does this fit in? can i see these corrections monday please. it does not ned to be placed in a display folder thatis up to you. mr cluse YEAR 12 PES CHEMISTRY THE CHEMISTRY OF FIREWORKS IRECIEL TUD TRINITY COLLEGE GAWLER Introduction A firework is an incendiary device or material that can be used for signalling or entertainment. There are chemicals located in the nose of the rocket that explode, producing the colours seen. The art of fireworks, first originated in ancient China, with the first explosive being made from a mixture of black powder during the Sung dynasty. It is believed that the explosive mixture was created by a combination of sulfur, saltpeter and charcoal. The Chinese found that the combination of these ingredients was extremely flammable and would explode if set alight. Fireworks were originally created for the purpose of entertainment and today they are still widely used in celebration to mark special occasions. The thrill and excitement generated by fireworks, brightening the night sky and immersing it with vivid displays of colour and technicality, which makes them a crowd pleaser. Behind all the excitement of fireworks, chemistry plays an important role in creating the vivid colours we witness lighting up the sky. The actual chemical reactions that take place in the explosions require the use of oxidisers, reducing agents and binders. ...read more.


The colour emitted depends on the mixture of perchlorates and metal ions in the star. Black Powder: The powder is similar to gunpowder and the formula is 75% potassium nitrate, 15% charcoal and 10% sulfur. Launch Tube: Most fireworks are launched from rows of steel tubes that are secured into troughs of sand The launching tubes tend to be three times longer than the height of the firework, but similar in diameter. The snug fit is to allow the pressure created in the tube to propel the firework into the air. Fuse: Today's fireworks use electric circuits to activate the launching process for obvious safety. With the push of a button, an electric current rushes through the wire and creates a spark at the point of contact. The main fuse lights two secondary fuses. The first being a fast acting side fuse that ignites the lift charge and the second being a time delay fuse that ignites the black powder and star. Lift Charge: When gunpowder burns in the open air, the heat and gas generated quickly dissipates. By adding gunpowder to the base of the firework in a small compartment, it allows the heat and gas trapped to thrust the firework upward allowing a height of up to 300 metres to be reached. (Images from How Things Work http://www.howthingswork.com) TABLE 5: Cross section of a firework Social Significance The social significance of fireworks in today's society is to provide a means of nighttime entertainment. In addition, the principles of fireworks and pyrotechnics have been applied for uses within industry, search and rescue and for warfare. From its humble beginnings as firecrackers (SEE FIGURE 1), the development of this technology by the Chinese, Europeans and Arabians has seen more spectacular colours and range of fireworks to be produced (see TABLE 6). (FIGURE 1: a firecracker) Types of fireworks that exist Type of Firework Description Firecracker Used primarily for sound Roman Candles Cylindrical containers that emit balls or stars of fires at intervals Pinwheels Fireworks mounted around a wheel. ...read more.


* Leave the lighting of all fireworks to the trained operator when you attend a public display. * Sparklers, fountains and other items that many states allow for use by private individuals are not appropriate to use when a large crowd is present * Protect your hearing because fireworks can peak at 140-160 decibels. * Like playing with matches, children should not have access to any type of firework * The fumes produced from the explosives are toxic, therefore care should be taken not to inhale the fumes or prolong contact TABLE 10: Health Considerations Conclusion The art of fireworks has evolved greatly since its initial discovery in Ancient China. From simply a flash of light, the addition of metal compounds has allowed new and vivid colours to be created. The basic concept of the firework has been adopted for military purposes, initially as war rockets and eventually to its use as gunpowder. In non-threatening ways, the properties of fireworks have been transformed into a use for signaling and illumination during periods of darkness for both safety and military purposes. The chemical processes of redox reactions and combustion are present in the explosion of fireworks. The addition of metal ions are what creates the colours as their electrons return to 'ground state' after being excited by the heat energy released during the explosion. In order to make fireworks safe for everyone to enjoy, we must first educate each other on how to appropriately view fireworks. It is now by law, illegal to be in possession of any firework without a permit, which is a positive move toward making fireworks a safe form of nighttime entertainment. Fireworks have evolved greatly through the Middle Ages thanks to the Europeans. The only negative aspect with fireworks is Europe's use of the technology to create gunpowder-based weaponry. While fireworks are truly fascinating to watch, they are very dangerous because of their explosive nature and the high level of noise emitted. Despite all the dangers associated with fireworks, they should remain in use within our society for their primary purpose of entertainment. ...read more.

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