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Old November 17, 2007, 10:31 AM   #1
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Another weird thought...

Was thinking about this while reloading: What if you were able to reload in a high O2 environment, say 80% or greater, instead of our usual 20.9%? Not pressurized O2, just ambient pressure. What effect would that have on a load? O2 isn't flammable or explosive, just promotes burning. Would a high O2 load be beneficial by making the powder charge more efficient, or would it be detrimental?
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Old November 17, 2007, 12:51 PM   #2
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I don't think it would have any measurable effect. Gunpowder (both black and smokeless varieties) does not need ambient oxygen to ignite. Guns can fire even under water or in vacuum as the oxidizer is already part of the powder. I doubt the tiny amount of air in the case, even if it was composed of 100% O2 would not have a significant effect on combustion of the powder.
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Old November 17, 2007, 01:58 PM   #3
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Interesting question. Any oxygen within the cartridge is immediately consumed upon firing, so I do not think it would affect loading data. As stated, gunpowder is nitrated, and provides its own oxygen as it burns under pressure, and since it is isolated from the environment it should be unaffected by availability of O2 in the atmosphere.
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Old November 18, 2007, 02:09 AM   #4
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O2 is flammable, and explosive at the right concentration

I don't know where you got your info (or went to school), but while chemically listed as an oxidizer, O2 (oxygen gas) is extremely flammable, and explosive at the right concentration. The big NO SMOKING signs in hospitals (where oxygen is in use) are not there because of the risk of cancer from second hand smoke. They are there (and were there before smoking was known to hazardous) because of the real and immediate risk of FIRE!!!

Oxygen saturated clothing claimed more than one victim over the years before all the dangers were understood. There are slightly differeing definitions of "flammable" depending if you are in a chemistry lab, or working in an industry environment (and subject to DOT regs) but O2 meets all of them. As well as the regs covering a "compressed gas", for the bottles. Also, incidently, it is a corrosive as well, but this aspect is usually not apparent with short term exposure.

As was stated, gunpowder produces it's own O2 as it burns, so I would doubt that burning gunpowder in an O2 rich enviroment would have any significant effect on the burning rate. The powder isn't using O2 from the enviroment to burn, it is using the O2 in the chemical itself, so the amount of O2 in the enviroment doesn't matter to the chemical burn. Now, discharging a firearm in an environment with a high enough O2 content to ignite or detonate, that is a really, really bad idea. Slightly worse than checking your gas tank level with a lit match!
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Old November 18, 2007, 08:56 AM   #5
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Ive always wondered if putting your ammo in a vacum sealer would have any effect on the gunpowder,maybe expanding it and giving more surface area to to quicker.
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Old November 18, 2007, 03:25 PM   #6
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If you were working in a vacuum???

When you seat the bullets, then you might very slightly reduce the pressure of the load when fired - air pressure 14.7psi at sea level, so, loaded in a vacuum, that <15lbs pressure (approx) will not be there. So a very slight difference when the powder burns. about 15psi.

Loaded ammo placed in a vacuum will have no effect, as the ammo is basically air tight. Over a long enough period of time (years/decades?) it might, but if it did, all that could happen is the loss of the ~15psi abient air pressure.

Vacuum packing ammo is to ensure all the moisture in the air is removed (by removing the air), enhancing long term storage.
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