“The most notable of the mixed oxidizers have been bismuth trioxide (Bi2O3) with AP in aluminized boost propellants and ammonium nitrate (AN) with AP in both aluminized and reduced smoke propellants. A significant reduction in reaction violence compared with that of state-of-the-art propellants has been demonstrated with propellants containing these mixed oxidizers loaded in analog or generic motors and subjected to the IM hazard tests. A boost propellant with bismuth trioxide (Bi2O3), AP, and aluminum has been demonstrated in composite-cased prototypes for potential use in the Tomahawk boost launch motor and in the 21-inch diameter risk reduction demonstration motor for the STANDARD Missile.”

Department of Defense
Acquisition Manager’s Handbook for
Insensitive Munitions,
U.S. Department of Defense, Jan. 2004

Applications of Bismuth Oxide

Applications Overview

Like bismuth subcarbonate, bismuth oxide is very dense and makes an excellent radiopaque filler. Bismuth oxide has a very high bulk density and is easy to feed. Bismuth oxide is generally recommended if a high level of filler is required—for example, 60% by weight—or if bismuth subcarbonate cannot be compounded satisfactorily in a particular resin. Some of the current applications include . . .


  • Bismuth oxide is well known for its non-toxic explosive oxidation properties
  • In consideration by U.S. military for use in missles (see sidebar)

R/F Shielding

  • radio frequency shielding (i.e. x-ray, microwave)


  • Non-toxicity of bismuth oxide makes it ideal for pharmaceutical applications.
  • Used in compounds for catheters and other medical tubing products.

Ceramics and Glass

  • Used in coloring and filling