Perchlorates in the news

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wwattles

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I find it interesting that they single out rocket propellant as the only mentioned source of perchlorates in the environment, and the EWG (essentially a lobby group) specifically targets DoD localities for their testing.

A little further research (still on the first page of a google search) finds a listing of other sources of perchlorates:

Today, ammonium perchlorate and the other perchlorate salts are used in a wide range of applications, including pyrotechnics and fireworks, blasting agents, matches, lubricating oils, textile dye fixing, nuclear reactors, electronic tubes, tanning and finishing leather, rubber manufacturing, electroplating, aluminum refinishing, automobile air bag inflators, paint and enamel production, and pharmaceuticals
Sounds rather eerily one-sided, if you ask me. In my opinion, it looks like another group trying to blame the government for an industrial problem so they can get an apology and a lot of money.

WW
 

rstaff3

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Very interesting indeed. It would be interesting to know the amount used/produced my application, the location relative to water sources, and the type of byproducts produced/discarded in each.
 

illini

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Well, when I worked at a solid propulsion company out west, our test range was pretty remote (as were our engineering offices). Whenever we'd test "the big one" I always wondered about all those nearby grazing cattle. They weren't grazing in the cleanest of fields for sure.
 

rstaff3

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I could get out my EX book, but you can probably answer this. I'm chemically challenged so this is a dumb question. What is the composition of burned AP? Is the residue still perchlorate or does the reaction break this down?

Even with the nearby cows, a chemical plant dumping waste into a river may be more of an issue.

Oh, if the cows get to close did you guys get BBQ for lunch? :)
 

illini

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Good question. I'm not a chemist so I'm sure I'll leave some things out. The primary ingredients were HTPB (tire rubber), AP, and aluminum powder. HCL (hydrochloric acid) was definitely one of the primary products. Another was Al2O3, aluminum oxide, which we referred to as slag. If I'm remembering right, about 30% of the mass flow was molten liquid slag. You would also expect incomplete combustion due to chemical kinetics, so some of the exhaust would certainly have been traces of raw ingredients and some amount of other transitional (non-equilibrium) compounds.

I don't remember any free BBQ, but I do remember those cows taking notice and stampeding a bit!
 

rstaff3

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Thanks for the answer...and sorry you missed the BBQ :(
 

Micromeister

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You'd think they'ed be more concerned about the alumium oxide.. one of the most toxic agents around.
The whole article sounds like more environmental wacko's looking for any excuse to bash the military and Space programs. Aren't these the same California folks trying to ban smoking on the Pubic Beaches? While I do not condone smoking, Dang these folks are OUTSIDE! Seems way over the top just like this perchlorate salts thing...fishy might be a better word?
 

illini

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I'm sure you meant *public* beaches, but we caught your meaning. :p

I agree it sounds like extremist enviro-nazi fear-mongering. There just aren't enough motor firings going on in the world to have such a significant impact. I'm more afraid of the methane production from those cows than the slag production in those motors. ;)
 

rstaff3

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News flash: Scientists worry about methane production from cows. Recommend people eat them as soon as possible.
 

kenobi65

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Originally posted by rstaff3
News flash: Scientists worry about methane production from cows. Recommend people eat them as soon as possible.
Ironically enough, I heard a story on the news this morning about a new vaccine that would reduce "methane burps" in cattle and sheep. Scientists believe that, if they could innoculate enough of those animals with this vaccine, they could make a significant dent in greenhouse gas emissions.

Even more ironic, my wife has called these scientists and asked when they'll have the vaccine ready for humans. ;)
 

daveyfire

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If they're saying Perchlorates are carcinogens, I might believe them, except I know Frank Kosdon personally. Frank is an, um, <i>eccentric</i> guy for those that don't know him. He's been in the rocket motor business working with perchlorates since the late 60s. One time at a launch, I was talking with him and he reached over and drank the water he was using to clean his motors. GROSS! He said he figured it was all over his outsides already, so why not get it on the inside too.

According to the environmentalists, Frank should be dead by now :p

(Of course, according to the laws of nature, Frank's motors shouldn't work either (Fast propellant in a 10,000 Ns 3" case just doesn't seem to WANT to work), but that's just Frank being Frank!)
 

cls

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David, I think you would agree that FK is not in the best of health - but it doesn't seem to be related to the usual problems with perchlorates, which is thyroid trouble.

human thyroid problems caused by perchlorate uptake are pretty well documented, there is no doubt about causation. however, arguments about sensitivity and dose continue.

as for me, I'm not gonna eat it or let my kids eat it, and we wash our hands after handling grains. I think the biggest problem for rocketeers is HCl in the exhaust.
 

daveyfire

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Yeah, I never planned to *lick* the grains or anything. :p Follow the same procedure with APCP that you would with any other chemical compound, and I think you'll be fine.
 

nomopbo

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You guys in Cali need to tone it down a bit. Start regulating your launches or something. Your gonna ruin it for all of us!:D
 

daveyfire

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If we were burning enough AP to have an impact on the environment, we'd be so far in debt it wouldn't even be funny ;)

After all, ClO<sub>4</sub><sup>-</sup> ions are naturally occurring. Perchlorates were also a part of fertilizers, and I've even heard of some farmers adding them to cattle feed to fatten up the cows (since it causes thyroid problems, it makes the cows grow and grow and grow...). Gee, add a little copper (II) oxide and your steaks would be done in half the time! :p
 
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