|See also guncotton Also called (not in chemical usage): nitrocellulose a compound made by treating cellulose with nitric and sulphuric acids, used in plastics, lacquers, and explosives: a nitrogen-containing ester of cellulose|
cellulose nitrate n.
A pulpy or cottonlike polymer derived from cellulose treated with sulfuric and nitric acids and used in the manufacture of explosives and plastics. Also called nitrocellulose.
a mixture of nitric esters of cellulose, and a highly flammable compound that is the main ingredient of modern gunpowder. Nitrocellulose is a fluffy white substance that retains some of the fibrous structure of untreated cellulose. It is not stable to heat, and even carefully prepared samples will ignite on brief heating to more than about 150 C (300 F). When nitrocellulose decomposes, it forms products that catalyze further decomposition; this reaction, if not stopped in time, results in an explosion
Learn more about cellulose nitrate with a free trial on Britannica.com.