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Title: Microexplosions and ignition dynamics in engineered aluminum/polymer fuel particles

Aluminum particles are widely used as a metal fuel in solid propellants. However, poor combustion efficiencies and two-phase flow losses result due in part to particle agglomeration. Engineered composite particles of aluminum (Al) with inclusions of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or low-density polyethylene (LDPE) have been shown to improve ignition and yield smaller agglomerates in solid propellants, recently. Reductions in agglomeration were attributed to internal pressurization and fragmentation (microexplosions) of the composite particles at the propellant surface. We explore the mechanisms responsible for microexplosions in order to better understand the combustion characteristics of composite fuel particles. Single composite particles of Al/PTFE and Al/LDPE with diameters between 100 and 1200 µm are ignited on a substrate to mimic a burning propellant surface in a controlled environment using a CO 2 laser in the irradiance range of 78–7700 W/cm 2. Furthermore, the effects of particle size, milling time, and inclusion content on the resulting ignition delay, product particle size distributions, and microexplosion tendencies are reported. For example particles with higher PTFE content (30 wt%) had laser flux ignition thresholds as low as 77 W/cm 2, exhibiting more burning particle dispersion due to microexplosions compared to the other materials considered. Composite Al/LDPE particles exhibit relativelymore » high ignition thresholds compared to Al/PTFE particles, and microexplosions were observed only with laser fluxes above 5500 W/cm 2 due to low LDPE reactivity with Al resulting in negligible particle self-heating. However, results show that microexplosions can occur for Al containing both low and high reactivity inclusions (LDPE and PTFE, respectively) and that polymer inclusions can be used to tailor the ignition threshold. Furthermore, this class of modified metal particles shows significant promise for application in many different energetic materials that use metal fuels.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [4] ;  [1]
  1. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States). School of Mechanical Engineering
  2. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, SD (United States). Chemical and Biological Engineering
  3. Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA (United States). Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
  4. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States). School of Materials Engineering
  5. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Materials Science and Technology Division
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Combustion and Flame
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 176; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0010-2180
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; Laser ignition; Mechanical activation; Aluminum; Polytetrafluoroethylene; Low-density polyethylene
OSTI Identifier: