Skip to main content
Select Source:

nitrocellulose

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.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"nitrocellulose." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jun. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"nitrocellulose." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nitrocellulose

"nitrocellulose." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nitrocellulose

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

nitrocellulose

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.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"nitrocellulose." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jun. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"nitrocellulose." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/nitrocellulose

"nitrocellulose." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved June 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/nitrocellulose

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.