Sir Frederick Abel

Sir Frederick Abel

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sir Frederick Augustus Abel (1827-1902), the British chemist and expert on military explosives. An early pupil of Hofmann at the Royal College of Chemistry, he became chemist to the War Department in 1854. He showed that guncotton (obtained by nitrating cotton) could be made safe by removing traces of acid which led to instability. Collaborating with Dewar in 1889 he invented 'cordite', a mixture of guncotton and nitroglycerin gelatinized with propanone and petroleum jelly, which became the standard British military propellant. It produces little smoke on firing, an important advantage on the battlefield.

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Keywords: abel, cordite, developer, explosive, frederick, guncotton explosive, inventor, pioneer, portrait, portraits, surname a

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