Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry

, Volume 134, Issue 2, pp 953–969 | Cite as

Effect of plasticizer dibutyl phthalate on the thermal decomposition of nitrocellulose

  • Ruichao Wei
  • Shenshi Huang
  • Zhi Wang
  • Chengming Wang
  • Tiannian Zhou
  • Junjiang He
  • Richard Yuen
  • Jian WangEmail author


This paper aims to investigate the effects of plasticizer dibutyl phthalate (DBP) on the thermal decomposition of nitrocellulose (NC) by using a series of analytical apparatuses. In the present study, the detailed structures of pure NC (NC-P) and NC with DBP (NC-D) were revealed by scanning electron microscope. It was found that the fibers in NC-D are more closely aligned than those in NC-P, which makes the thermal behaviors of NC-D different from NC-P. The thermal stability of both NC-P and NC-D was examined by means of simultaneous TG-DSC apparatus (STA). Three different kinetic methods (Kissinger–Akahira–Sunose method, Ozawa–Flynn–Wall method, and Friedman method) were applied for determining the activation energy E of these two NC samples. Moreover, the experimental data were compared with sigmoidal models and pre-exponential factor was calculated by compensation effect. Besides, in situ Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and a TGA instrument coupled with Frontier FTIR spectrometer were employed to investigate the characteristic functional groups of decomposition residues and gaseous products at different temperatures, respectively. The results show that NC-P and NC-D have similar decomposition products and decomposition mechanisms.


Nitrocellulose Dibutyl phthalate Thermal stability Reaction model Decomposition mechanisms 

List of symbols


Pre-exponential factor


A parameter of random scission kinetic functions

a − b

Compensation effect parameters


Activation energy (kJ mol−1)


The dependence of the reaction rate on the extent of conversion


The integral form of the reaction model


The dependence of the reaction rate on temperature


A parameter of random scission kinetic functions


Real-time sample mass in TG (mg)


Mass after the reaction in TG (mg)


Initial sample mass in TG (mg)


A constant in describing reaction model


Temperature integral


One part of nitrocellulose, i.e., [C6H7O2(OH)3–x(ONO2)x–1]n


Gas constant (J mol−1 K−1)


Pearson’s correlation coefficient




Temperature (°C)


Temperature at an fixed α


Onset decomposition temperature


Maximum decomposition temperature




Normalized mass

Greek symbols


Extent of conversion


Heating rate







Different heating rates




Degree of polymerization








The number of –ONO2


α = 0.5



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51376172) and the Grant from the Research Grant Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (contract Grant Number CityU 11301015).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts to declare.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruichao Wei
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shenshi Huang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhi Wang
    • 1
  • Chengming Wang
    • 3
  • Tiannian Zhou
    • 1
  • Junjiang He
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard Yuen
    • 2
  • Jian Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Fire ScienceUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Architectural EngineeringCity University of Hong KongHong KongPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the MicroscaleUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiPeople’s Republic of China

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