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Old 02-11-2019, 07:55 PM   #211
Icelander
 
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Default Re: Industrial Chemistry, part 1

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Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
Toluene is found in crude oil, but can also be made from coal. Production is otherwise similar to nitroglycerine.
Even if they put their petroleum industry below some other stuff in the priority queue, I'm guessing that the ASNs could make toluene from their huge coal works (among the first in line for priority), where they manufacture coke in massive amounts, because being German means loving coal and steelworks. :-)

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The modern explosive of choice for large-scale mining and demolitions is ammonium nitrate-fuel oil - same stuff used in cruder form by terrorists for car bombs. It's available today in vast quantities because it's the nitrogenous fertilizer of choice.
The ASNs would like to have lots of chemical fertilizer and diesel fuels around, but they've prioritized other areas of infrastructure development ahead of them.

Nitrates, in particular, are in great demand for manufacturing ammunition, at least those nitrates that can profitably be extracted and used for black powder or other ammunition. If there are ways to get fertilizer from other stuff, without cutting into the vital supply for the ammunition industry, I'm sure that Jötunheim and Germania Hyperborea farmers would love it, even if the stuffy environmentalist SS Junkers in their magical demiplane neither want nor need it.

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Without large-scale use of this for farming, cheap explosives in large scale probably means black powder,
Does that have any important ramifications for civil engineering works that require blasting?

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unless a dynamite plant is set up - which it might be if double-base propellants are used for guns.

TNT seems harder to make, but is more stable and less interested in turning into exotic metal salts when in contact with metals. It's also harder to detonate, so it requires more complicated fusing. This is one reason TNT wasn't used much for civilian purposes - dynamite is reasonably safe, and much easier to use.
I strongly suspect that any attempt to manufacture ammunition for the vintage WWII weapons that the ASNs brought along would eventually involve the manufacture of a double-base powder.

After all, the ammunition that the weapons were designed for were usually using double-base powder and the German army had even designed their beloved 7.92x57mm Mauser S Patrone around a new double-based powder at the beginning of the 20th century, changing over from the Patrone 88 (which was almost identical, but used a single-base powder). The s.S Patrone, which was the standard in WWII, used the same type of double-base powder as had become standard for the Germans.

I think dynamite is an excellent idea, as soon as they have a good enough production capacity to make enough of the chemicals they need to supply both ammo and explosives. Until then, dynamite and TNT might be available to special units, but not on any large scale.
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:30 PM   #212
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Default Primers

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Primers
Making primers is somewhat dangerous, both because of the risks of explosions and because there are often poisonous chemicals involved. Sensible engineers working for the ASN will have got machines built for small-scale production, and brought them, and supplies of the materials, through. You need separate buildings for making primers, well separated from anything else.

The primer compound they use needs to be selected. The easiest one to make is the old-fashioned one, based on mercury fulminate. The more advanced ones, which don't use mercury or corrosive substances, need a lot more chemistry to make.

Mercury fulminate is prepared by mixing mercury with nitric acid, and adding ethanol. That's simple, but you need other substances too.

Potassium chlorate provides oxygen for the combustion of the primer, once the mercury fulminate has started things off. You make it by bubbling chlorine, through hot calcium hydroxide solution, then adding potassium chloride.
I've been trying to track it down, without success, but a Robert Head wrote a meticulous dissertation on a synthesis of Potassium Chlorate primers that was substantially cheaper, easier and safer than any historical method used to make mercury fulminate primers.

It was either on Baen's Bar, the discussion boards for the 1632 series or it was as a non-fiction article in one of the eighty-one Grantville Gazettes published. Unfortunately, I've not got a subscription (will get one tomorrow, but if I do it now, I'll never sleep), but I might have read it in one of the Gazettes I bought individually, which, unfortunately, were on an old hard drive.

In any case, I'll try to track it down, as if people with a modern education in chemistry can come up with a better method of synthesis than were used historically, using nothing that would not be available in a 17th century household (Head's benchmark for 'easy'), that would make primers significantly more common and encourage the use of percussion caps, even if the manufacture of metal cartridges could not yet match the massive demand for ammunition.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:16 PM   #213
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Default Re: Earth analogues or not

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...
The stars are not just wrong in the sense that they don't match any known year on Earth. They are wrong in the sense that whatever exists out in that space might not even be real or if it is, it might not be in any way similar to the conditions in the space around our Earth...
Keep in mind the Eratosthenes of Cyrene came within a couple of percentage points of earth's circumference in ~240 BCE. They should also be able to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn by eye, if they exist here. Given that some of the NAZIs played with astrology someone likely brought an ephemeris, a bit of work will give them a year that is fairly close. If any of von Braun's scientist went with the ASN, they might be able to plot a year as well.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:51 PM   #214
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Default Re: Earth analogues or not

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Keep in mind the Eratosthenes of Cyrene came within a couple of percentage points of earth's circumference in ~240 BCE. They should also be able to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn by eye, if they exist here. Given that some of the NAZIs played with astrology someone likely brought an ephemeris, a bit of work will give them a year that is fairly close. If any of von Braun's scientist went with the ASN, they might be able to plot a year as well.
Okay, the ASNs can easily calculate the circumference of Germania Hyperborea, always assuming that their measurements are actually measuring physical reality and not some magical effect*, but what can they do to figure out a year?

The other planets in the solar system seem to be visible, yes, but as far as the scientific equipment they've brought can tell, the orbits don't fit. Hell, the planets don't look the same through good telescopes. They're just calling them that because with the naked eye, they seem to be located at about the right spots in the sky.

I don't see how the instruments the ASNs have access to can pinpoint the differences between a Jupiter that's substantialy identical to our own and one that is a magical illusion that exists only to provide a similar night sky. They do know that there are important differences, even if they lack the technology to investigate them all properly. The point is, if the stars and planets are just illusions or some other forms of magical creations, whoever created them knew enough basic observational astrology to fit them into more-or-less plausible positions, but nowhere near enough astronomy to convince actual TL7 astronomers that these are the same planets as exist around Earth.

*The first explorations of the Antarctic Space Nazis in 1943 and early 1944 were of the World Tree and Jötunheim. Physicists, geologists, astronomers and many other kinds of physical scientists whom the ASNs brought in do not remember those days fondly. The World Tree seems to exist in some kind of non-spatial realm where the same experiments or even measurements replicated exactly at slightly different times give wildly different results. Mystical means can stabilize pathways, but the distance from 'roots' to 'highest point' still varies from a few thousand feet to infinite miles, depending on factors that should not in any way affect a measurement.

And Jötunheim, well, it seems 'normal' at first glance, if something like what the scientists imagined Earth might have been at some point in the Mezasoic, but the more you investigate, the less you understand. As far as science can tell, the world is physically impossible. There are no stars, because the sun never sets, it just dims in some magical fashion at night, and then it generally rains. And don't even get them started on a 'circumference', as measuring shadows seems to suggest that the world isn't flat, it's concave [corrected from 'convex', which would be normal], and they should be able to see what's beyond the sun with telescopes, but it disappears into mist no matter what they do.
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Old 02-12-2019, 01:44 AM   #215
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Default Re: Shellac

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Okay, the ASNs can easily calculate the circumference of Germania Hyperborea, always assuming that their measurements are actually measuring physical reality and not some magical effect*, but what can they do to figure out a year?
Sun's apparent movement against fixed stars (sidereal year).
How often the growing season happens / solstice to solstice based on daylight timing (tropical year).

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Well, WAG time, forumites. Is it more or less likely than 50% that the sub-tropical areas of Jötunheim where the ASNs have their settlements might have giant insects, magical or otherwise, that produce a useful shellac substitute?
Is it fun?

Does it lead, for example, to ASNs fighting off giant insects with precious Panzerschreck troops, only to be told that this ruins the resin and they've got to do it the hard way?
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Old 02-12-2019, 01:48 AM   #216
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Default Re: Industrial Chemistry, part 1

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Basically, militaries seem to have always been prepared to select single-, double- or triple-based powders for different rounds and to mix-and-match these smokeless powders pretty freely within their supply chains, even to the point of having different types of rounds for the same chambering use different powders.
I think this is probably because they aren't doing the manufacturing themselves.

If you already have two distinct logistics items (as it might be "5.56mm ammunition" and "7.62mm ammunition"), it makes no difference to your supply train whether they use the same or different propellant.

It does make a difference to the suppliers, though, and if they were trying to scrabble together a manufacturing industry out of nothing they might well prefer to be milling just a single type of powder.
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Old 02-12-2019, 02:26 AM   #217
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Default Re: Earth analogues or not

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Edit: Well, actually, now that I consider it, I guess that some enterprising airship commander has probably managed to circumnavigate Germania Hyperborea in a well-supplied zeppelin powered by an Elemental Furnace, at some point between Year 25 to 51. To be certain in his navigation, there would have been not only Hexensoldat rune-casters on board, but also a dowser of some power and a magi learned in many different traditions. They'd have homed in on landmarks using magic and checked all celestial navigation, even by the sun, against divinations and dowsing.
For a first circumnavigation, there's a lot to be said for going in northern summer and following the northern coasts of Eurasia and North America (if it's there).

The route is shorter, you can stay in daylight the whole time, which reduces buoyancy fluctuations with the day-night cycle, and there won't be many people around. You get to find out a fair bit about the geographic similarities with Earth, and the adherents of Welteislehre will be keen since you may find evidence for it.
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Old 02-12-2019, 06:31 AM   #218
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Default Re: Shellac

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Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
Sun's apparent movement against fixed stars (sidereal year).
How often the growing season happens / solstice to solstice based on daylight timing (tropical year).
The tropical year is the same on Germania Hyperborea as on Earth.

The sidereal year seems to be of the same length at first glance, but as the fixed stars do not occupy the exact same spots as they should during any epoch on Earth, this is of limited utility in determining what year it is on Germania Hyperborea.

The ASNs can measure with precision how much time elapsed since they got there, but I don't see what they could use as a benchmark to determine whether the local year was -1,500 BCE, -1,000 BCE -500 BCE or around 1 CE. But if someone has a method of fixing the date in mind that does not rely on the orbits of celestial objects being exactly the same as on Earth, I'm all ears.

Currently, the best dating method I can imagine for them is estimating that the native tales of a catastrophe that caused the fall of a polity on the analogue to Crete refers to the eruption of the analogue to Thera (modern Santorini), and that this geological event ought to have taken place at the same time on Earth and Germania Hyperborea.

Unfortunately, native legends are imprecise as regards the time (people from nearby cultures seem to regard discussion of it with the ASNs as taboo) and differing accounts place it anywhere from three to twelve centuries ago.

I'm not sure how precisely the ASN geologists and archeologists can date physical evidence of the eruption on Germania Hyperborea without having any consensus on the dates of archaeological finds to benchmark it against. And I don't know what the state of the art in dating the eruption of Thera on Earth was in 1945.

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Is it fun?

Does it lead, for example, to ASNs fighting off giant insects with precious Panzerschreck troops, only to be told that this ruins the resin and they've got to do it the hard way?
Well, whether or not the local fauna of Jötunheim yields a substitute for shellac, just the fact that the massive coal fields with easily accessible surface coal that the ASNs are using to power their industry is located on Jötunheim means they need to kill or drive off local fauna, including giant insects, dinosaurs, archosaurs and various types of unnatural manavores resembling mutated, impossible versions of Mezozoic fauna.

The existence of many other natural resources in abundant seams and/or easily accessible mining sites on Jötunheim will also force ASNs to clear out many new areas there, even if they don't make any use of the local fauna. As will the tar pits around another gate on Jötunheim, once their petrochemical industry really gets going.

Basically, the reason the ASNs are not content merely with manufacturing ammunition for the 7.92x57mm, but have complicate their supply with far larger rounds is the fauna of Jötunheim, and the fact that equally hostile critters of unhealthy size can be found on many other worlds. If you have to fight off mana-powered super-dinosaurs (or über-archosaurs) with a taste for human flesh, you'll start wishing for more firepower pretty quickly.

The ASNs cleared the area around their initial research stations and later first settlements on Jötunheim using chemical weapons in 1943-1944, but once they emigrated from Earth in 1945, they didn't have access to large quantities of stockpiled chemical weapons any more and until the ASNs can build up a local chemical industry, they're down to shooting any obstreperous native fauna. And yes, they did use precious Panzershrecks, until they ran out and probably couldn't replace them until industry was further along.
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Old 02-12-2019, 06:42 AM   #219
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Default Industrial Chemistry, part 2a, more on primers

The problem the US had with mercury primers was that they become less reliable in hot damp conditions. The primer manufacture description I summarised was British, and the varnishing is intended to deal with that, and apparently worked. Mercury also causes brass cases to become brittle and fail when repeatedly reloaded, which was important for the US civilian market, and that influences US military practices.

The reason for tin foil, specifically, is that having a little tin in the gasses greatly reduces deposits of copper in the bore from the bullet jackets.

Primers are “corrosive” if they contain chlorate. That isn't a problem with black powder, since cleaning sufficient to remove black powder residue will remove the chlorate, but smokeless powder leaves very little residue, and cleaning with oil will not remove chlorate. You need to use water, and people are reluctant to use water on clean-looking steel, because they're afraid of making it rust. But you do need to do that, then dry and oil the steel, because if you don't, you get rust as soon as the humidity gets above desert levels.

One non-mercuric but corrosive primer mixture was sulphur, potassium chlorate and antimony trisulphide, which works well provided you dry the mixture in a dry atmosphere; if you let it stay moist for very long, you get sulphuric acid forming, and the primers become unreliable.

Avoiding that problem was possible, with a mix of potassium chlorate, antimony trisulphide, lead thiocyanate and TNT, but that needs a bit more chemistry than the sulphur-based primer.

The usual German non-corrosive mercuric primer was mercury fulminate, barium nitrate, antimony trisulphide, picric acid and ground glass. Barium nitrate is made by mining barium carbonate or sulphate, and then treating either one with nitric acid.

Source: Hatcher's Notebook, Julian S Hatcher.
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:03 AM   #220
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Default Re: Earth analogues or not

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
... if the stars and planets are just illusions or some other forms of magical creations, whoever created them knew enough basic observational astrology to fit them into more-or-less plausible positions, but nowhere near enough astronomy to convince actual TL7 astronomers that these are the same planets as exist around Earth.
Use a telescope to look for stars that aren't visible to the naked eye. Earth's skies have loads of them, and they're well-mapped. If they're completely different, this isn't Earth at any time close enough to humanity's span to be useful; if they're absent, the place has been made up, and is not a natural world, and if they're only slightly different, you can try to figure out a date from their positions and Earth's records of their proper motions.
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The World Tree seems to exist in some kind of non-spatial realm where the same experiments or even measurements replicated exactly at slightly different times give wildly different results.
An astral plane.
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And Jötunheim … There are no stars, because the sun never sets, it just dims in some magical fashion at night, and then it generally rains.
Does the sun move in the sky, or stay static?
Quote:
And don't even get them started on a 'circumference', as measuring shadows seems to suggest that the world isn't flat, it's convex, and they should be able to see what's beyond the sun with telescopes, but it disappears into mist no matter what they do.
Do you mean concave? A normal planet is convex; if this world is a sphere with the sun, atmosphere and so on inside it, it's concave. The idea will be known to some of the ASN.

Overall, the worrying thing about these worlds to the ASN is that they seem to be based on different and incompatible bits of Nazi mysticism.
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