A healthier July Fourth: Eco-friendly fireworks and flares poised to light up the sky

Jun 30, 2008
A healthier July Fourth: Eco-friendly fireworks and flares poised to light up the sky
Scientists plan to replace potassium perchlorate, a harmful substance widely used in fireworks, with cleaner, less toxic materials. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

From the rockets' red glare to bombs bursting in air, researchers are developing more environmentally friendly fireworks and flares to light up the night sky while minimizing potential health risks, according to an article scheduled for the June 30 issue of Chemical & Engineering News. Some eco-friendly fireworks may soon appear at a Fourth of July display or rock concert near you.

In the C&EN cover story, Associate Editor Bethany Halford points out that fireworks, flares and other so-called pyrotechnics commonly include potassium perchlorate to speed up the fuel-burning process.

But some studies have linked perchlorate, which can accumulate in the soil, air and water, to thyroid damage. Pyrotechnics also contain color-producing heavy metals, such as barium and copper, which have also been linked to toxic effects.

Researchers recently developed new pyrotechnic formulas that replace perchlorate with nitrogen-rich materials or nitrocellulose that burn cleaner and produce less smoke. At the same time, these nitrogen-rich formulas also use fewer color-producing chemicals, dramatically cutting down on the amount of heavy metals used and lowering their potentially toxic effects. Some of these fireworks are already being used at circuses, rock concerts, and other events.

The big challenge in developing these "eco-friendly" pyrotechnics is making them as cost-effective as conventional fireworks while maintaining their dazzle and glow, the article states.

Source: ACS

Explore further: New flexible films for touch screen applications achieve longer lasting display

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why your laptop battery won't kill you

7 hours ago

News on Tuesday that major U.S. airlines are no longer going to ship powerful lithium-ion batteries might lead some to fret about the safety of their personal electronic devices.

Visa, MasterCard moving into mobile pay in Africa

7 hours ago

Americans may just be getting used to mobile pay, but consumers in many African countries have been paying with their phones for years. Now payment processors Visa and MasterCard want to get a slice of that market, and are ...

Recommended for you

Understanding nickel catalysis

17 hours ago

Catalysis is a chemical phenomenon that increases the rate of a chemical reaction by spending only a tiny amount of additional substance, called a catalyst. Around 90 percent of all commercially manufactured ...

Video: What does space smell like?

Mar 04, 2015

You can see it through a telescope, or watch a documentary about it, but you can't stick your nose out and take a whiff.

Solar cells get growth boost

Mar 04, 2015

Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University's (OIST) Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit have found that growing a type of film used to manufacture solar cells ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.