Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Firefly aluminum and black powder rocket


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 Uarbor

Uarbor

    Pyromaniac

  • Full Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 89 posts

Posted 02 June 2021 - 11:11 AM

I want to add something to my black powder Rocket Fuel to make a bright tail at night. I have Firefly aluminum but I was afraid to use it without checking first I have read there can be a reaction if you don't use boric acid. Can anyone point me in the right direction? I have tried searching on this forum but I could not seem to find anything about it. Anyway I have a 18 mesh Firefly aluminum and I also have spherical aluminum that is 30 micron. Also I intend on hand ramming my Rockets as usual with an aluminum and bronze tool set

Edited by Uarbor, 02 June 2021 - 11:17 AM.


#2 MadMat

MadMat

    Pyrotechnician

  • Donator - HE
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 759 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North-east MO
  • Interests:Anything scientific.

Posted 02 June 2021 - 12:33 PM

Get some titanium. You will be much more impressed with the results and you won't have to worry about any unwanted reactions


Edited by MadMat, 02 June 2021 - 12:34 PM.


#3 BetICouldMake1

BetICouldMake1

    Pyrotechnician

  • HE Qualified
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 230 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 02 June 2021 - 04:44 PM

You can certainly get a tail using aluminum. I would just mix a small batch for the delay, you don't need or want it around the spindle. Reactions are only an issue when there is water involved, specifically alkaline water. If you are ramming your fuel damp boric acid is cheap insurance, but you would probably be fine without it given how little moisture you are adding. I like to use distilled water any time I'm dampening comps with aluminum, again, cheap insurance. Unlike Ti aluminum is a fuel and may have some impact on your burn rate depending how much you add, so that's something you should consider. 



#4 Mumbles

Mumbles

    Grandmaster

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,753 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Above You

Posted 03 June 2021 - 12:19 PM

I'd also like to add that the reaction rate is particle size dependent.  Firefly aluminum is very coarse and I don't think you'd have any issues.  A little boric acid added to the dry mix can't hurt, but probably isn't needed. 

 

Some of my favorite streamers use this type of aluminum.  I think it would be fine.  Coarser charcoal can also be used for a tail alone or in combination with the firefly Al. 


Just so you guys quit asking, here is the link to the old forum. http://www.xsorbit2....forum/index.cgi

The sky is my canvas, and I have 2,113 pounds of powdered paint in the workshop.

#5 itwasntme

itwasntme

    Pyromaniac

  • Full Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 188 posts

Posted 04 June 2021 - 05:57 AM

I'd also like to add that the reaction rate is particle size dependent.  Firefly aluminum is very coarse and I don't think you'd have any issues.  A little boric acid added to the dry mix can't hurt, but probably isn't needed. 

 

Some of my favorite streamers use this type of aluminum.  I think it would be fine.  Coarser charcoal can also be used for a tail alone or in combination with the firefly Al. 

I've had trouble getting firefly aluminum to ignite from black powder alone, I figured due to the temp not being high enough. Is there a trick to getting it to ignite such as higher sulfur content providing a sort of flux?



#6 ronmoper76

ronmoper76

    Pyrotechnician

  • Full Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 215 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Huntingdon Pennsylvania
  • Interests:Building computer,science,chemistry,anything pyrotechnic related,3# whistles and strobes at the moment.

Posted 05 June 2021 - 08:39 AM

I've had trouble getting firefly aluminum to ignite from black powder alone, I figured due to the temp not being high enough. Is there a trick to getting it to ignite such as higher sulfur content providing a sort of flux?

personally i found that some things are just not meant to be substituted,i tried all kinds of stuff in my fuel,but nothing worked quit like actual titanium. Maybe someone knows how to use firefly aluminum,but other things work alot better i believe.



#7 Carbon796

Carbon796

    Pyrotechnician

  • Donator
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 475 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Colorado U.S.A.
  • Interests:Vintage tube radios, Jet Boats, Custom painting.

Posted 06 June 2021 - 09:50 AM

Probably more likely, that the BP burns too quickly and cleanly.

#8 Uarbor

Uarbor

    Pyromaniac

  • Full Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 89 posts

Posted 06 June 2021 - 10:23 AM

Probably more likely, that the BP burns too quickly and cleanly.



#9 Uarbor

Uarbor

    Pyromaniac

  • Full Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 89 posts

Posted 06 June 2021 - 10:25 AM

Probably more likely, that the BP burns too quickly and cleanly.

Apparently that is correct because I tried it and it did not ignite the aluminum. I just made a new chemical order for some fountains I want to make and I got a pound of spherical titanium I might give that a shot unless anyone thinks it would be dangerous to hand Ram a rocket with titanium. I will await some opinions before I attempt it. Thanks to everyone for all the help so far

#10 Carbon796

Carbon796

    Pyrotechnician

  • Donator
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 475 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Colorado U.S.A.
  • Interests:Vintage tube radios, Jet Boats, Custom painting.

Posted 06 June 2021 - 10:35 AM

Spherical, is the safer option for hand ramming. But, it should only be used in the delay comp/section. Not around the spindle.

If you want to use the firefly aluminum. You likely will need to use a true firefly comp, in the delay section as well.

Edited by Carbon796, 06 June 2021 - 10:37 AM.


#11 Uarbor

Uarbor

    Pyromaniac

  • Full Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 89 posts

Posted 06 June 2021 - 12:00 PM

Spherical, is the safer option for hand ramming. But, it should only be used in the delay comp/section. Not around the spindle.

If you want to use the firefly aluminum. You likely will need to use a true firefly comp, in the delay section as well.

thanks for the info. I do believe I will go with adding larger particle size charcoal because I want the effect to trace the entire path of the rocket. And also I want to keep risk at an absolute minimum. I just had the aluminum on hand for some Stars I'm eventually going to make. I had so much I was just thinking of some other uses.

Edited by Uarbor, 06 June 2021 - 12:02 PM.


#12 ronmoper76

ronmoper76

    Pyrotechnician

  • Full Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 215 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Huntingdon Pennsylvania
  • Interests:Building computer,science,chemistry,anything pyrotechnic related,3# whistles and strobes at the moment.

Posted 06 June 2021 - 12:32 PM

thanks for the info. I do believe I will go with adding larger particle size charcoal because I want the effect to trace the entire path of the rocket. And also I want to keep risk at an absolute minimum. I just had the aluminum on hand for some Stars I'm eventually going to make. I had so much I was just thinking of some other uses.

I bought 80 mesh charcoal a while back for making the hp140c fuel and it definitely works in a lot of other things as well. It throws out nice sparks as well,i think you will like it.



#13 Twesla

Twesla

    Playing with fire

  • Full Member
  • PipPip
  • 17 posts

Posted 08 June 2021 - 12:14 PM

Theres a composition on sky lighter for firefly fuel that I recently tried. Its nozzled and It uses the 75/15/10 BP ratios, but with lampblack replacing charcoal in its entirety as the carbon source, +6 18 mesh firefly aluminum and +3 boric acid (which I omitted). All ingredients except the aluminum are ball milled together.

The article called for using a regular BP core burner spindle, but I used the universal hybrid tool and pressed the first 7 increments with hybrid #1 hot sali whistle with +10 ball milled charcoal. Unfortunately I flew this rocket during the day, because I was more concerned with how well it performs in flight. When I test the next one at night, Ill let everyone know how it looks.

#14 Uarbor

Uarbor

    Pyromaniac

  • Full Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 89 posts

Posted 08 June 2021 - 01:12 PM

Theres a composition on sky lighter for firefly fuel that I recently tried. Its nozzled and It uses the 75/15/10 BP ratios, but with lampblack replacing charcoal in its entirety as the carbon source, +6 18 mesh firefly aluminum and +3 boric acid (which I omitted). All ingredients except the aluminum are ball milled together.

The article called for using a regular BP core burner spindle, but I used the universal hybrid tool and pressed the first 7 increments with hybrid #1 hot sali whistle with +10 ball milled charcoal. Unfortunately I flew this rocket during the day, because I was more concerned with how well it performs in flight. When I test the next one at night, Ill let everyone know how it looks.

I did see that recipe on there. I was wondering why they were using lampblack instead of charcoal. If I recall correctly I think they mentioned it makes better Sparks than charcoal.

Edited by Uarbor, 08 June 2021 - 01:12 PM.


#15 SharkWhisperer

SharkWhisperer

    Pyrotechnician

  • Donator
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 705 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 08 June 2021 - 05:48 PM

thanks for the info. I do believe I will go with adding larger particle size charcoal because I want the effect to trace the entire path of the rocket. And also I want to keep risk at an absolute minimum. I just had the aluminum on hand for some Stars I'm eventually going to make. I had so much I was just thinking of some other uses.

The common K101 and K102 firefly Al  are large coated (thus shiny) particles, which inhibits ignition. The coating also makes it a slight pain in the ass to use in charcoal comps, especially at higher metal ratios. The coating (often stearic acid) can make the damp star comps difficult to shape and retain that shape until dry. I don't bother with boric acid unless using uncoated Al; sure, some of that protective coating might come off during mixing/processing and be exposed to water (charcoal comps--i use alcohol/acetone for 90% of the rest...), but I've never had that issue. If the Al/nitrate doesn't give you heating issues during damp processing, your thoroughly dried charcoal/Al stars are probably going to store without worry. A personal favorite is Alcoa 120 for charcoal comps. It's a wide variety of uncoated spherical Al particles but takes fire easily and is pretty cheap ($10/lb at FWC). Great spark collection! Others have different preferences.



#16 Mumbles

Mumbles

    Grandmaster

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,753 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Above You

Posted 10 June 2021 - 12:26 PM

I probably should have specified a little more.  There's aluminum that's sold as "firefly" aluminum, which is made by a company called Transmet.  There is K-101 (more rectangular) and K-102 (more square).  It looks like little cut up rectangles or squares of metal and is a little thicker than most flakes. See: https://www.pyrochemsource.com/Aluminum-Flake-18-mesh_p_45.html This has been on the market for a while and works if you work with it. I've definitely heard of people who have issues getting it to light.  In firefly comps, I often see maybe 5% extra barium sulfate added.  This makes the mix a little slaggier and will coat the metal better and help it to light. 

 

What I actually prefer using is usually sold as coarse flitter.  See: https://www.pyrochemsource.com/Aluminum-Powder-Coarse-Flitter-USB-812_p_116.html This material is less uniform in size, but I think that's an advantage.  More importantly to me, it's thinner.  It's more of a pounded flake vs. a cut flake like the above material.  A wider cut of particle sizes makes a more attractive tail to me.  The finer material and thinner flakes probably help it to light a little easier as well.  I will note that to make a real firefly effect with the appropriate delay, you need to screen out the finer material, otherwise the effect is given away too soon.


Just so you guys quit asking, here is the link to the old forum. http://www.xsorbit2....forum/index.cgi

The sky is my canvas, and I have 2,113 pounds of powdered paint in the workshop.

#17 SharkWhisperer

SharkWhisperer

    Pyrotechnician

  • Donator
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 705 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 10 June 2021 - 01:13 PM

I probably should have specified a little more.  There's aluminum that's sold as "firefly" aluminum, which is made by a company called Transmet.  There is K-101 (more rectangular) and K-102 (more square).  It looks like little cut up rectangles or squares of metal and is a little thicker than most flakes. See: https://www.pyrochemsource.com/Aluminum-Flake-18-mesh_p_45.html This has been on the market for a while and works if you work with it. I've definitely heard of people who have issues getting it to light.  In firefly comps, I often see maybe 5% extra barium sulfate added.  This makes the mix a little slaggier and will coat the metal better and help it to light. 

 

What I actually prefer using is usually sold as coarse flitter.  See: https://www.pyrochemsource.com/Aluminum-Powder-Coarse-Flitter-USB-812_p_116.html This material is less uniform in size, but I think that's an advantage.  More importantly to me, it's thinner.  It's more of a pounded flake vs. a cut flake like the above material.  A wider cut of particle sizes makes a more attractive tail to me.  The finer material and thinner flakes probably help it to light a little easier as well.  I will note that to make a real firefly effect with the appropriate delay, you need to screen out the finer material, otherwise the effect is given away too soon.

You mentioned that preference awhile back in another thread. I picked up a pound of 812 to test but haven't gotten around to it yet. PCS states it's 10-40 mesh. My K-series aluminums continue their long nap bagged up in a tote...



#18 Carbon796

Carbon796

    Pyrotechnician

  • Donator
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 475 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Colorado U.S.A.
  • Interests:Vintage tube radios, Jet Boats, Custom painting.

Posted 10 June 2021 - 05:52 PM

The common K101 and K102 firefly Al  are large coated (thus shiny) particles, which inhibits ignition. The coating also makes it a slight pain in the ass to use in charcoal comps, especially at higher metal ratios. The coating (often stearic acid) can make the damp star comps difficult to shape and retain that shape until dry.
- Snip -


Do you actually own any of Transmet's K101 & K102 flake aluminum ? Because, it's not coated. Just because an aluminum " powder " is described as bright. Doesn't automatically mean its coated. There are plenty of uncoated bright aluminums also. The primary use of K101 & K102 are as fillers in plastic and composite components. Where a waxy coating like stearic acid, would affect it bonding as a filler.

Stearic acid is a low temp fuel. A property which is advantageous for blues. You'll often see it used in some older and more traditional blue formulas. It will not inhibit the ignition of large flake aluminum. It will have burnt off long before. You've gotten the large aluminum flake, up to an ignition temperature.

The reason why it's hard to ignite, is simple. It's just really fucking big flake. Like bass boat flake big. There may be some "flitter" aluminum that's similar in size. But, the K101&K102 will be much thicker. 2 to 3 times as thick, possibly more. Which is why a fast clean burning comp, may not provide enough duration. To get a larger/thicker flake burning. While a slower, drossy/slaggy comp will.

#19 SharkWhisperer

SharkWhisperer

    Pyrotechnician

  • Donator
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 705 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 10 June 2021 - 07:42 PM

Do you actually own any of Transmet's K101 & K102 flake aluminum ? Because, it's not coated. Just because an aluminum " powder " is described as bright. Doesn't automatically mean its coated. There are plenty of uncoated bright aluminums also. The primary use of K101 & K102 are as fillers in plastic and composite components. Where a waxy coating like stearic acid, would affect it bonding as a filler.

Stearic acid is a low temp fuel. A property which is advantageous for blues. You'll often see it used in some older and more traditional blue formulas. It will not inhibit the ignition of large flake aluminum. It will have burnt off long before. You've gotten the large aluminum flake, up to an ignition temperature.

The reason why it's hard to ignite, is simple. It's just really fucking big flake. Like bass boat flake big. There may be some "flitter" aluminum that's similar in size. But, the K101&K102 will be much thicker. 2 to 3 times as thick, possibly more. Which is why a fast clean burning comp, may not provide enough duration. To get a larger/thicker flake burning. While a slower, drossy/slaggy comp will.

Is Transmet the source? No idea. It's K101 and K102 from Chris at FWC. If Transmet's the source then that's the source. And it's not a "powder", it's clear macroscopic flakes. Uncoated Al will stay shiny bright? In what world?  Perhaps one without an oxygen-containing atmosphere. Not earth. Any "bright"/shiny Al is coated with something. Whether it's the coating or not, the K stuff, in my hands  is a pia to homogenize into some charcoal star comps. Not surprising that a waxy/stearic acid coating slightly complicates star comp binding, but seems quantity-dependent, which is expected. Still, doesn't dazzle me with its utility.

 

And yup, it's a really big flake. You're right that stearic acid on such a huge flake is probably not a flame-starting inhibitor because you need a sustained fire to get that huge Al particle lit up. But if it were the coating on smaller flake bright Al, I'd consider it an ignition inhibitor for sure.

 

I'm hoping the 812 I bought on Mumbles' recommendation is better suited to my needs; I expect so. Then perhaps I'll try to find an ideal use for my K flakes. Likely firepit fodder. Til then, they are backburnered in semi-retirement. Probably a reason it's only $8/pound.



#20 Carbon796

Carbon796

    Pyrotechnician

  • Donator
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 475 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Colorado U.S.A.
  • Interests:Vintage tube radios, Jet Boats, Custom painting.

Posted 10 June 2021 - 09:04 PM

The ideal use for the K101/2 firefly flake. Is in a firefly comp. It is for a specific use, the 50/50 blend is referred to as a comet blend. Think 2",3",4" ect. It is not for small stars.

The reason it does not consolidate well is purely physical. That's why it has a specific binder recommendation. Aluminum does not continue to degrade and oxidize like magnesium does. It also doesn't tarnish like copper or brass. I have aluminum mill and lathe stock, that's been laying around for years. That is just as shiny, as the day it was machined.

The reason its only $8 a pound is probably because he only paid $2-3 a pound on his side. Most hobbyist will buy it in bulk at $4-5 a pound.

It can also be used successfully in metal fueled streamers. But, if your skill set only allows firepit usage. No one here will be surprised.

Edited by Carbon796, 10 June 2021 - 10:05 PM.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users