Cellulose is the main component of plant cell walls. It occupies about 50% of plant dry matter.
Cotton wool is one of many forms of pure cellulose.
Cellulose is a macromolecule with many alcohol functions. An inorganic esterification with nitric acid leads to the nitrocellulose:
The synthesis involves three steps: - Cold nitration with a mixture of nitric acid and sulfuric acid. - Washing with water
- Drying in a dessicator:
The combustion of nitrocellulose is much stronger than that of ordinary cellulose:
Nitrocellulose is used today primarily as a replacement for explosive black powder. It is found under the names of gun cotton or pyroxyle.