SD+SB in Middle Earth

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Patrick Ogaard
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Postby Patrick Ogaard » 2003-02-25 01:24pm

I'd like to note that my objection to general use of black powder on the basis of sulfur requirements naturally also applies to the pretty much all smokeless powders.

Regardless, though, large stocks of smokeless powder would be a good thing to have when facing hordes of orcs.

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Postby Patrick Ogaard » 2003-02-25 01:27pm

Okay, just ignore the typo nightmare in my previous post and no one gets hurt.

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Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2003-02-26 01:44am

Remember that until WWI the nitrates for nitric acid production in smokeless powder came entirely from Chile. It's very rare unless we can produce it artificially, which will require a chemical production facility of at least teens-era twentieth century technology. Not just a chemical lab, but the production facilities to make enough on a scale sufficient for our needs.

Black powder's ingredients might be rare, but they were plentiful enough to feed all military requirements up through the first three quarters of the 19th century, and that's more than enough for us, even with the possibility of lesser than average stocks on the Middle Earth.
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Postby Perinquus » 2003-02-26 01:47am

The German's figured out a way to produce it artificially just before WWI. They apparently realized their sources would dry up in the event of a British blockade of their ports. They were right too. It would be worth investigating the method they used, especially since it will pay off in terms of agriculture (fertilizer) as well.

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Postby Patrick Ogaard » 2003-02-26 03:50am

Here we go, I think:

http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/rzepa/mim/environmental/html/nitric_text.htm

The saltpeter that is part of any gunpowder (black powder) formula is potassium nitrate. In the good old days of the musket, certain men were in many nations of Europe given special commissions to act as saltpeter hunters. Wherever they found saltpeter they had the authority to take all necessary actions to secure the material. In normal houses, saltpeter was often found as the white fuzz coming out of the cellar walls. Thus, if word got out, a troop of the lord's men would appear, demolish the house, scrape the fuzz of the cellar walls, and then excavate the soil surrounding the cellar.

A further advancement was made once the necessary link was found: urine and excrement mixed with soil eventually prompt the formation of saltpeter deposits. A common practice adopted then was to pen a herd of large domestic animals in a specific enclosure for a period of several days, until the field was completely saturated with wastes. Then one clears the animals out and waits a year or two, after which a troop of laborers is sent in with shovels to dig up the saltpeter. Old latrines and bat caves were other standard sources.

None of these methods was adequate to supply an industrialized nation state's military with its needed nitrates, of course, since they required nitrates by the hundreds and thousands of tons and that just isn't practical using herds of pigs and some cellar scrapings. The obvious industrial solution, still used today, was bird poop, AKA guano. Peru has lots of small coastal islands that are frequented by flocks of assorted fish-hunting birds in the millions, or at least hundreds of thousands. There are so many birds, generating so much guano, that the islands actually grow in height over the course of just a few years. The drying and quickly decomposing guano is enormously rich in nitrates, especially potassium nitrate, and hardens to something resembling mud brick. Every so often a bulldozer team comes along and strips off a meter or three of such an island's surface, grinds the stuff up and bags it for shipping around the world.

For the purposes of the scenario, animal and human wastes should be an adequate source of harvestable quantities of nitrates for the production of propellants and explosives. If not, it might be necessary to find a suitable coastal island, mount an expedition in force equipped with HMMWV transport, and bring home a few thousand kilograms of well-aged, bagged bird poop.

The various stopgaps and alternate solutions to the problems of limited resources, as developed by the German chemical industry before and during the World Wars, as well as by the chemical industries of the other nations involved, could help. It depends on the specifics of how all that was achieved. If the necessary processes and materials prove practical in the scenario, they would obviously be worthwhile.

If the chemistry lab has the necessary catalysts, production of nitric acid in small batches should be entirely possible. If all else should fail, the needed ammonia should be refinable from the boiled urine of cattle (since that's what the Vikings used to bleach their hair and also as an ammonia-rich household cleaner).

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Postby Patrick Ogaard » 2003-02-26 03:57am

Being able to produce nitric acid would also allow, potentially at least, the production of aqua regia, and that's another possible angle of attack against the One Ring. It likely won't work, but it wouldn't hurt to try to dissolve the ring in aqua regia.

More importantly, the base should have lots of diesel fuel available, and being able to produce ammonium nitrate would then allow the production of potentially hundreds of kilograms of stable high explosives without cutting into the diesel fuel stocks too much.

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Postby phongn » 2003-04-09 11:39am

Perinquus wrote:The German's figured out a way to produce it artificially just before WWI. They apparently realized their sources would dry up in the event of a British blockade of their ports. They were right too. It would be worth investigating the method they used, especially since it will pay off in terms of agriculture (fertilizer) as well.


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Postby Durandal » 2003-04-09 12:10pm

Resurrecting the thread, are we, Phong?
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Postby Cpt_Frank » 2003-04-09 12:21pm

Durandal wrote:Resurrecting the thread, are we, Phong?

It was talen who did it, but his post is gone now.
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Postby Stormbringer » 2003-04-09 12:21pm

Durandal wrote:Resurrecting the thread, are we, Phong?


Talen posted a "bump" (which I deleted as spam)
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Re: SD+SB in Middle Earth

Postby RedImperator » 2008-11-17 08:25pm

Moved to Famous Threads. This is not only the most famous RAR of all time, it's by far the best.
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