White fuming nitric acid
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White fuming nitric acid (WFNA) is a storable liquid oxidizer used with kerosene and hydrazine rocket fuel. It consists of nearly pure nitric acid (HNO3). WFNA is commonly specified as containing no more than 2% water and less than 0.5% dissolved nitrogen dioxide or dinitrogen tetroxide.
WFNA was sometimes used with an inhibitor compound to reduce corrosiveness, often hydrogen fluoride. Without inhibitors, WFNA will corrode nearly all structural metals. Inhibited WFNA is often called IWFNA. The hydrogen fluoride addition causes formation of protective layer of fluoride on the metal surfaces.
WFNA as an oxidizer has somewhat less performance than red fuming nitric acid (RFNA) but is considerably safer (though extremely corrosive), as it has little to no dissolved nitrogen tetroxide, which is an extremely toxic and volatile chemical. If not inhibited, it will form nitrogen tetroxide on contact with most metals and some organic materials. WFNA can be converted from RFNA by simply leaving the RFNA out in low temperature for a couple of hours.
WFNA is also used in the manufacture of nitroglycerin, an explosive, by mixing it with concentrated sulfuric acid to produce the nitro group ester, and then by the slow addition of glycerol. This has now mostly been replaced by the less expensive procedure that uses a nearly 1:1 solution of oleum and azeotropic nitric acid (70%).
- National Pollutant Inventory – Nitric Acid Fact Sheet
- 2013/2014 data within Australia - Nitric acid from All Sources
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