December 10, 2014
9mm Materials Research paper
As Americans we exercise our right to bear arms frequently, and some more frequently than others. We are constantly stockpiling ammunition in hopes that one day we may find a use for our neurotic hoarding of bullets and believe it or not some bullets are more sought after than others. In fact, the most commonly used small arms round in the U.S. are 9mm bullets. The 9mm bullet was originally invented by, Georg Luger, an Austrian designer, famous for his invention of the Luger pistol. Since the implementation of Luger’s bullet in 1902 the 9mm round has skyrocketed in popularity making it the most commonly used small arms round in the world. However, one does wonder exactly what goes into making these bullets. More specifically, what is the life cycle of a 9mm bullet and what materials go into making these deadly instruments.
There are multiple steps that go into the life cycle of a 9mm bullet. The first being: raw materials. 9mm bullets, as simple as they may seem, are comprised of multiple raw materials. However, to understand what raw materials go into a 9mm bullet, one must understand the anatomy of the bullet. The anatomy of the bullet consists of the: “projectile, cartridge, powder, and the primer” (Anatomy of Ammo). The projectile or the actual bullet is constructed of lead that is completely coated in a copper jacket. These two raw materials are both commonly mined and refined by going through a process called smelting. The process of smelting allows the ore that is extracted, to be produced into a metal. This is accomplished by heating the metal beyond its melting point and cooled in the, “presence of oxidizing agents, such as air, or reducing agents, such as coke” (Smelting (metallurgy)). The cartridge of the 9mm is usually brass, which is a combination of copper and zinc. Just like copper and lead, zinc is mined and refined through the process of smelting. Zinc is the “24th most abundant element” (Emsley, John). This means that there is no shortage on zinc due to its abundance. The smokeless powder used in 9mm bullets is made up of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin. Depending on the performance you want in the bullet, a double base smokeless powder can be used, “If maximum velocity is desired” (Gunpowder). Essentially the double base smokeless powder is a combination of both the nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin. Nitrocellulose is a highly flammable compound that consists, “of nitric esters of cellulose” (Nitrocellulose (Chemical Compound)). This means that the organic compound reacts with water to produce alcohol, which is flammable. Nitroglycerine, is an acid that is an explosive liquid. The two together allow the powder to accelerate the bullet out of the cartridge. The final component of the bullet is, the primer. According to Remington, a popular firearms company, the primer is usually comprised of “potassium chlorate and lead trinitroesorcinate” (Patent US1880235 - Priming Mixture). Potassium Chlorate is a compound that is typically formed in laboratories and is produced by passing chlorine into the hot milk of lime (calcium hydroxide in pure water). All these raw materials are extracted from various locations across the world, and there is no one particular location that 9mm bullet producers, or any bullet production companies for that matter, extract their resources from. However, lead has been extracted from a place by the name of Doe Run, Missouri, which is one of the largest lead mining companies in the world, and no doubt a large supplier in the arms industry today.
Following up in the materials that go into the life cycle of the bullet are the materials that go into the manufacturing process of bullets. There are only two ways in which bullets are manufactured. The first method is called casting. Casting (a practice that is less common in bullet production today) is where bullets are constructed by, “pouring molten metal into a mold” (How Products Are Made). This can method of bullet construction can be very dangerous due to the accidental spilling molten metal on ones self. This is perhaps the reason why this method is no longer used on an industrial scale. The molds that encompass the molten metal are now commonly made of aluminum or cast iron, due to the metals durability. The other way bullets are constructed (the most common way in contemporary society) is through swaging. Swaging is where dies are used to force the bullets into shape using hydraulic pressure. These heavy machines are comprised of countless materials, but are marginally made of steel.
The next steps in the life cycle of the 9mm bullets are: distribution, transportation and re-use of the product. To prepare ammunition for distribution, according to UPS, one must make sure that their ammunition is contained within a corrugated package meeting UPS’s strict guidelines. The ammunition must also be packaged, “with internal boxes or partitioning or in metal clips” (United States). While UPS is only one form of distribution, one must assume that most bullet companies prepare their ammunition for transportation in a similar fashion. Bullets are then distributed through a few different types of transportation methods. And Caina-Longbranch Defense Systems, a company devoted to the design and development of ammunition and military ordinance, mention the methods of transportation they use. For instance Caina-Longbranch uses, “Sea Freight, Airfreight, Rail and truck in both the military and commercial field” (Shipping Logistics). These are all large vessels of transportation and consume tons of fuel just to deliver something as small as a 9mm bullet! As for the reuse of the 9mm bullet, after the bullet is fired the primer and powder are burned and released into the surrounding air, eliminating the ability to re-use. However, many marksmen collect their fired brass to re-swag for later use. Distributors of ammunition are now forced to mark their products with information such as the, “name of ammo maker; country of origin; type of gun; and abbreviation of the Government Agency, whose responsibility would be to register firearms” (Patent US20050045056 - Serial Pin-numbering, or Coding of Bullets, Bullet Casings and Other Projectiles as an Improvement for the Use of Ammunition). This allows firearms distributors and the authorities to track those directly involved with firearms offenses throughout the U.S. This is a relatively new legislation and is now a requirement for all current ammunition distributors in the United States.
The Final parts of the life cycle of the 9mm bullet are the recycle and waste management. Believe it or not bullets are highly recyclable and have many different options as to how one disposes of their bullets. However, the only exception to the disposal of bullets is that one must not throw them into garbage! If bullets are thrown into the trash they end up in a landfill. This is problematic because in a landfill temperatures rise, and when this happens bullets are subject to exploding and can harm nearby landfill workers. The most effective way to recycle your bullets is to use a bullet pull to remove the bullet and, “render the ammo harmless” (Recycling Ammunition - E-waste Battery & Light Bulb Recycling). Fortunately, if one does not own a bullet pull local police stations are supposed to collect the unwanted bullets from citizens, or point them in the right direction. In fact the president of H and H shooting, Miles Hall, encourages the recycling of bullets and states that, “lead and brass are recyclable materials” (Recycling Ammunition - E-waste Battery & Light Bulb Recycling). With bullets being so highly recyclable there is no need to throw bullets into the trash where they will only sit for thousands of years.
While 9mm bullets may be extremely deadly they are extremely efficient, and that is partly to do with the materials used in their design. The overall design of the 9mm bullet and all bullets for that matter has changed little since their invention. Overall the 9mm bullet is made of highly recyclable materials, which are not down cycled, meaning that the bullets retain their quality during the recycling process. While the negative consequences of creating bullets are obvious, it is rather amazing to see exactly how much goes into these little killing machines. The design of the 9mm bullet is almost virtually flawless and I don’t expect the design to change in the near future.
"Anatomy of Ammo." - Starline Brass. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.
Casings and Other Projectiles as an Improvement for the Use of Ammunition." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.
Emsley, John. Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.
"Gunpowder." Shooting Illustrated Gunpowder Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.
"How Products Are Made." How Bullet Is Made. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.
"Nitrocellulose (chemical Compound)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.
"Patent US1880235 - Priming Mixture." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.
"Patent US20050045056 - Serial Pin-numbering, or Coding of Bullets, Bullet
"Recycling Ammunition - E-waste Battery & Light Bulb Recycling." Ewaste Battery Light Bulb Recycling. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2014.
"Smelting (metallurgy)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
"United States." Shipping Firearms and Ammunition: UPS. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2014.
"Shipping Logistics." Shipping Logistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
9mm Full Metal Jacket Brass Cased Bullet
Kira Janel Dacayanan
DES 40A: Energy, Materials, and Design Over Time
December 11, 2014
The 9mm cartridge is one of the most popular calibers used by shooters. The specific cartridge focused on in this report is also known as the 9x10mm Parabellum, 9mm Luger, 9mm NATO, or simply 9mm. It was first developed by Georg Luger – hence the name 9mm Luger – in 1901 and started production in 1902. As previously mentioned, it is still used today as one of the most popular shot calibers, being manufactured by 27 countries and used in over 70.
When it comes to the production of the ammunition, it appears that sustainability is not a high priority. Despite the amount of energy embodied in handing its production and afterlife, the usable life of the 9mm cartridge lasts no more than a few seconds, at most. This report examines the energy embodied in the life cycle of a 9mm, expended by the various machinery and processes involved from its creation to its destruction, and infers the justification of the energy expenditure.
Specifically, this research focuses on the most common processes and main material components comprised in a 9mm, full metal jacket (FMJ), brass cased bullet with smokeless powder. The 9mm has four main components: bullet, casing, propellant, and primer. Altogether these components make up the cartridge. Due to the proprietary nature of the reports output by the various manufacturers of ammunition, statistical data regarding the production and sustainability of the 9mm FMJ bullet could not be ascertained.
The FMJ bullet has a lead core with a thin copper casing (jacket). The casing is commonly made out of cartridge brass, an alloy of 70% copper and 30% zinc.
The propellant used in small pistol ammunition, including the 9mm, is double-base smokeless powder; “double-base” refers to utilizing both nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin as its charge.
The primer has 3 main components: anvil, cup, and chemical compound. The anvil and cup are both made out of cartridge brass. The chemical compound varies between manufacturers, but all small pistol primers contain Lead Styphnate, Barium Nitrate, and Antimony Sulfide.
The majority of the embodied energy in a 9mm cartridge is from the combined mining and processing of the metals – primarily lead, zinc, and copper.
Primary Raw Material Processing
Lead, zinc, and copper are all extracted from ores from either open-pit or underground mining. From mining to casted ingots of their respective metals, the energy inputs include electricity, explosives, diesel, gasoline, natural gas, fuel oil, coal, and coke to fuel machinery or catalyze reactions.  The processes used to process and refine the ores vary depending on the metal being extracted, but most go through milling or other methods of ore crushing and utilize various types of furnaces, such as blast, refining, and flash. These processes rely heavily on hydrocarbon fuels and electricity, and molten metals usually go through the furnace processes multiple times to achieve high purity levels. Additionally, zinc and copper go through electro-refining processes remove impurities, these processes especially rely on electricity; an example would be electrolysis in copper refining which utilizes electricity for nine to fifteen days with as many as 1,250 tanks at a time.  The energy consumed to produce about 1 ton (US short ton) of refined lead is approximately 25 percent of the energy consumed to produce a ton of copper, and less than 50 percent of that used to produce a ton of zinc.
For the purposes 9mm manufacturing, the lead is usually formed by into spools of long wire by extrusion with its diameter close to the 9mm. Copper and zinc, are alloyed in specific ratios (70 Cu/30 Zn), and are annealed and rolled to produce sheets of Cartridge Brass. Copper is also used in thin sheets which are also formed through annealing and rolling. The manufacturing and assembly of the 9mm cartridge is less energy intensive compared to the raw materials mining and processing; however the amount of energy expenditure is still high nonetheless.
9mm Manufacturing and Assembly
Each component of the cartridge may be manufactured independent of each other, but many manufacturers produce each component and assemble them all in a single plant-facility. Covered here will be the bullet, casing, powder, and primer production, and cartridge assembly.
For the bullet, assembly starts with either swaging or casting. Machining is also done but is usually only done for prototyping or custom bullet production. Casting is usually done by individual hobbyists while swaging is usually done during production, as it is faster and does not require melting the lead. In either case, a large amount of energy is used to power the furnace or pressing machines used, especially electrical energy. Swaging is a room-temperature process where lead is forced into a precise die; the lead takes and retains the bullet shape due to high pressure force from the presses. For FMJ bullets, a thin copper sheet is formed over the lead core, this may be achieved either through electroplating the copper onto the bullet or drawing the copper over it.
The smokeless powder is composed of several different compounds, the primary components being the energetics: nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine. The additional compounds added assist in the maintenance of the powder’s burning rate and shelf life. The components are combined using either water or organic solvent into a dough or paste that is then extruded or shaped into the desired form. Propellants come in varying sizes, but for small pistol double-base powder, they are processed into either discs or balls. The processes involved in the production of smokeless powder do not seem to be energy intensive, but the chemicals involved usually are the result of refining the byproducts of producing other materials. For example, in the production of lead and copper, sulfuric dioxide is produced during the refining and purification processes. This is then sent to an acid plant that treats it to produce sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is one of the key components in the production of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine. 
The brass casing is produced by initially stamping a disc out of a sheet of brass then pressed into a cup. The cup then goes through a series of drawing processes which uniformly elongate the cup into the casing size. Once the case is the correct length and diameter, a series of machines further refine the shape and structure of the case. The final brass case is hardened, but annealed at the neck where the bullet will be pressed into, and the bottom contains the primer pocket and flash hole.
The primer’s anvil and cup are easily pressed or stamped out of a sheet of brass. The key components of the chemical component of the primer includes Lead Styphnate, Barium Nitrate, and Antimony Sulfide a combination that ignites from impact. These components are separately produced, usually from refining the byproducts of other highly energy embodied materials during their production, like previously mentioned with sulfuric acid.
The cartridge is assembled by first inserting the primer, filled with the propellant (smokeless powder), then the bullet is pressed and crimped into the case to finalize the length and diameter of the cartridge. The assembly line used to produce 9mm can include over 25 machines. An example assembly line sold by Caina - Longbranch Defence Systems Ltd. could produce up to 84,000 complete rounds of ammunition in a single 24 hour period. The line includes equipment for surface treating, case manufacturing, bullet manufacturing, and the priming/loading/assembly of the cartridges. The majority of energy input is electrical energy used to power the machines. Some facilities do utilize renewable energy sources: solar and wind, but the energy generated renewably is small compared to energy consumption. Once the cartridges are packaged, they are sent internationally and locally to distributors, retailers, and straight to consumers.
Transportation and Distribution
9mm ammunition is transported internationally via freight planes, trains, trucks, and ships. Producers of ammunition may choose to ship through businesses that specifically import/export firearm related goods. Due to the nature of the goods, there are strict policies governing the transportation of firearms and related equipment, including ammunition. Despite this, ammunition is imported/exported to over most of the world. In 2011 alone, the US imported $34 billion and exported $43 billion worth of ammunition (9mm ammunition is just a fraction of this).  Regardless of the mode of transportation, the amount of diesel, jet fuel and electricity used is huge. The energy used in the transportation of freight is approximated to be 31,600 BTU/ton-mile (20.7 MJ/ton-km) for planes, 4400 BTU/ton-mile (2.9 MJ/ton-km) for trucks, 371 BTU/ton-mile (0.24 MJ/ton-km) for trains, and 411 BTU/ton-mile (0.27 MJ/ton-km) for ships. Additionally, the energy used in freight truck transportation can include raw materials as well, as haul trucks are commonly used to transport the mined ores to the facilities that process them. The amount of energy put into the 9mm cartridge, thus far makes its usable energy as a consumer product seem miniscule.
Use and Re-Use
9mm ammunition is used in small pistols. The energy actually required to use the product is primarily kinetic energy provided by the firearm’s firing mechanism. When the trigger is pulled, the primer at the center of the end of the bullet is struck by a hammer, pin, or striker. The impact detonates the primer which ignites the smokeless powder. This reaction is what propels the bullet out of the chamber and through the barrel of a gun. The muzzle energy for a FMJ 9mm varies from around 309 to 413 ft-lb (419 to 560 Joules), and this entails only the kinetic energy of the bullet. All the energy output from a fired bullet is converted into kinetic and chemical heat and sound, and kinetic energy which is ultimately absorbed and dissipated in a matter of seconds. All that is left is an empty brass casing and a spent bullet, with little to no visible trace of the primer compound and propellant. The casing can be reused for reloading new bullets. Reloading involves machinery to clean, inspect, and fix the cartridge, this assures the quality of the used brass and prepares it to be reloaded with new powder, primer, and bullet. The reloading of the brass casing is done the same way new casings would be loaded, and can be done using the same machinery. Electricity is primarily used in the reloading process.
Waste Management and Recycling
Out of all the waste left-over once the bullet is shot, only the brass casing is reusable. However, if collected, bullets and brass casings can be recycled. Bullets can be melted back down, even if it contains a metal coating, like the full metal copper jacket. The different metals can be separated out using the same methods used to initially concentrate and refine the metals. If the brass casing is not used for reloading, it can also be recycled and melted back down. The same energy sources initially used to process them would also be used to recycle them, this includes electricity, natural gas, diesel fuel, coke, and coal.
When the bullets and casings are not collected for recycling or reloading, ammunition is either destroyed, including via explosion, incineration, or other utilization of pyrotechnics, or it is contained. The destruction methods would involve use of electricity and fossil fuels in either powering machinery or fueling chemical reactions. Otherwise, these waste components end up staying in the environment, causing potential harm due to toxic lead exposure. This is often the case during times of combat and war. Because it is an efficient means to an end, it is often overlooked after its use. The after-life of ammunition is not typically a major concern in its production.
Observations and Conclusion
There is an enormous amount of energy involved in the production and management of 9mm cartridges which significantly outmatches its energy used by consumers. The product itself is ultimately harmful and often lethal to others. When questioning the reasons for the effort put into producing something that is useful for only one brief moment, the inferred justification is solely because of its purpose. In essence, the real purpose of ammunition is to optimize rendering the end of any opposition to its user.
The main focus when producing ammunition is its reliability, rather than its sustainability. This reliability is tied to the quality of the materials of the ammunition components. This is why a large amount of the energy involved in 9mm cartridge production, as well as in ammunition in general, is in the processing and refinement of the raw materials.
“The end justifies the means,” appears to be the rationalization for the high energy consumption in producing ammunition.
 9afsguy, “The History of 9mm Ammunition,” August 30, 2013, http://www.9mmammoforsale.com/the-history-of-9mm-ammunition/
 Lewis Curtis, “Introduction to Collecting the 9mm Parabellum (Luger) Cartridge,” last modified December 23, 2012, http://cartridgecollectors.org/documents/Introduction-to-9mm-Luger-Cartridges.pdf
 US Department of Energy, “Energy and Environmental Profile of the U.S. Mining Industry: Lead and Zinc,” accessed December 11, 2014, http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/11/f4/lead_zinc.pdf
 U.S. Department of Energy, “Energy and Environmental Profile of the U.S. Mining Industry: Lead and Zinc,” accessed December 11, 2014, http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/11/f4/lead_zinc.pdf
 Cavette, “How Products are Made Volume 4: Copper”
 Caina – Lonbranch Defense System Ltd. “ Offer of Entire Production Line for Small Arms Handgun Ammunition Manufacture & Assembly,” accessed December 11, 2014, http://cainalongbranch.com/entireproductionline
 Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, “Department of Defense Annual Energy Management Report,” last modified September 2012, http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/energy/library/FY.2011.AEMR.PDF
 Benoit Cushman-Roisin, “ENGS-171 – Industrial Ecology – Dartmouth College,” accessed December 11, 2014, http://engineering.dartmouth.edu/~d30345d/courses/IE-at-UNG/UsefulNumbers.pdf
 Freedom Munitions, “Freedom Munitions – Overview,” accessed December 11, 2014, http://www.freedommunitions.com/Remanufactured-Ammo-Facts-s/1951.htm
 U.N. Dept. for Disarmament Affairs, “A Destruction Handbook,” accessed December 11, 2014. http://www.poa-iss.org/KIT/A%20destruction%20handbook%20SALW%20Ammunition%20and%20Explosives%20UN%202001.pdf
10 December 2014
Trashed and Wasted: The Life Cycle of a Bullet, Not a College Student
When given thought to how many different devices, materials, and tools we use every day, the vastness of this array can be quite overwhelming. Given the advancement of today’s technology, we are no longer limited to primitive tools that are made up of one material, such as carved stone tools. We have the ability to indulge in pocket-sized devices that can communicate with someone 5000 miles away, pens that digitally save hand-written notes, and even high-tech synthetic textiles that protect us far beyond the capacity of any medieval metal armor. However, along with these advancements that have given us such monumental abilities, they simultaneously complicated our understanding of how to let the Earth remain unaffected by their environmental consequences. Unlike a Paleolithic-era carved stone tool, that can simply be thrown into the dirt and returned to its natural habitat, a modern tool, such as one of the above-mentioned items, cannot simply be discarded without negative after-effects. Thus, it is our responsibility to be as educated as possible in regards to what our modern-day tools are comprised of, and what exactly the completion of their life cycle entails. One very crucial modern-day tool that has revolutionized the weaponry sphere of the human utilitarian evolution, and has a very interesting life cycle is the 9mm full metal jacket brass-cased bullet. After extensive collaborative research involving the raw materials needed to create the bullet, the energy used in the processes of creation, and the waste management procedures, it is clear that this is a modern advancement that is one of the cleanest and least consequential industrial inventions in our time, leaving little to no waste behind it. Let us go on to take a deeper glance at the waste process of the 9mm brass-cased bullet.
To be able to understand the last step in the life cycle of this bullet, one needs the have the basic knowledge of what its components are. The key parts to the bullet are the bullet itself, the brass casing, the smokeless powder, and finally, the primer. To simply outline the process of firing a bullet/discharging a weapon using a bullet, is that the primer/gunpowder chemically react to result in virtually no trace amounts to be considered residual waste. The only major components that are left behind are bullet itself and the casing.
To complicate this simple process, but to simultaneously add a dynamic edge/narrative to the possibilities of the waste management approach to used bullets, we need to look at the different scenarios in which bullets are used, and how the environmental factor affects their story. One of the most commonly associated areas of weaponry use is in global military organizations and law enforcement. With the vast use of bullets in the case of wars, often times the casings are left abandoned in battlefields, alongside the fallen soldiers who harbor the bullets deep inside their wounds. To omit the macabre details, the next biological degrading step is that the brass simply becomes a layer of the earth, and is left to take part in the sedimentary process in which millions of years of tectonic friction would turn it into a relatively homogenous earthen substance. However, thanks to the somewhat interesting fact that brass was considered a valuable material, there often times was an effort made to collect the brass casings from the battlefields. Collectors would then be able to take their found brass, melt it, and sell it by weight. However, often times the spread of the casings would be thin and varied by area, sometimes lodging meters deep into the ground, depending on impending weather, and never to be retrieved.
Another area in which bullets are widely used is at shooting ranges in countries where the ownership of firearms is legally allowed. One such place is the good ol’ United States of America. Thanks to the second amendment, all citizens have the right to bear arms. Because of this, many Americans either own a gun for personal safety, recreation, or for whatever reason they choose. Shooting ranges allow patrons to visit their facility and safely practice the firing of various legal weapons. Because of the popularity and frequent traffic such places receive, they become responsible for the management of all of the waste that results due to firing ammunition. Every year, many tons of casings are collected by shooting ranges across the US. However, they don’t simply throw them away because they are unusable. In fact, brass bullet casings are very easily put through a cleaning process, which is then followed by melting, and reformation into a brand new casing that can be reused. Because of this, it is one of the most eco-friendly and environmentally conscientiously produced items.
Waste and Emissions