Smokeless powder comparisons are commonly carried out by extracting additives and stabilizer degradation products from the powder using methylene chloride, and analyzing the results by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Some of these components are thermally unstable, making comparison of similar powders or of powders originating from different manufacturing lots difficult when GC is used. Isocratic HPLC analysis using C-18 stationary columns can be unsatisfactory due to a wide range of polarities of the additives and stabilizer degradation products and the presence of geometrical isomers. In this paper, a gradient procedure using a C-8 column is described for the analysis of smokeless powders. The procedure provides separation of a wide range of components present in smokeless powders. In this work, analytical figures of merit are provided, UV spectra of each of the components are presented, and the procedure is evaluated by comparing four different lots of smokeless powder from the same manufacturer.
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