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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Microexplosions and Ignition Dynamics in Engineered Aluminum/Polymer Fuel Particles
by Rubio, Mario A., M.S.M.E., Purdue University, 2017, 48; 10268368
Abstract (Summary)

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. Recently, 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. Reductions in agglomeration were attributed to internal pressurization and fragmentation (microexplosions) of the composite particles at the propellant surface.

Here, 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 100–1200 μm are ignited on a substrate to mimic a burning propellant surface in a controlled environment using a CO2 laser in the irradiance range of 78–7700 W/cm2. 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 relatively high ignition thresholds compared to Al/PTFE particles, and microexplosions were observed only with laser fluxes above 5500 W/cm2 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. This class of modified metal particles shows significant promise for application in many different energetic materials that use metal fuel.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Son, Steven F.
Commitee: Groven, Lori J., Gunduz, Ibrahim E.
School: Purdue University
Department: Mechanical Engineering
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: MAI 56/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Aerospace engineering, Mechanical engineering, Materials science
Keywords: Aluminum ignition, Composite fuel particles, Laser ignition, Mechanical activation, Microexplosions, Polytetraflouroethylene
Publication Number: 10268368
ISBN: 978-0-355-15690-4
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