nitrocellulose, nitric acid ester of cellulose (a glucose polymer). It is usually formed by the action of a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids on purified cotton or wood pulp. The extent of nitration and degradation (breaking down) of the cellulose is carefully controlled in order to obtain the desired product. When cotton is treated so that nearly all of the hydroxyl groups of the cellulose molecule are esterified, but with little or no degradation of the molecular structure, the nitrocellulose formed is called guncotton. Guncotton resembles cotton in its appearance. Extremely flammable, it explodes when detonated and is used in the manufacture of explosives. Guncotton is insoluble in such common solvents as water, chloroform, ether, and ethanol. If the nitration is not carried to completion (the point at which about two thirds of the hydroxyl groups are esterified), the soluble cellulose nitrate pyroxylin is formed.
"nitrocellulose." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 22, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nitrocellulose
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ni·tro·cel·lu·lose / ˌnītrōˈselyəˌlōs/ • n. Chem. a highly flammable material made by treating cellulose with concentrated nitric acid, used to make explosives and celluloid. Also called cellulose nitrate.
"nitrocellulose." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 22, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/nitrocellulose
"nitrocellulose." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved January 22, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/nitrocellulose