Effect of nano-aluminum and fumed silica particles on deflagration and detonation of Nitromethane

Justin L. Sabourin, Richard A. Yetter, Blaine W. Asay, Joseph M. Lloyd, Victor E. Sanders, Grant A. Risha, Steven F. Son

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The heterogeneous interaction between nitromethane (NM), particles of nanoscale aluminum (38 and 80 nm diameter), and fumed silica is examined in terms of the deflagration and detonation characteristics. Burning rates are quantified as functions of pressure using an optical pressure vessel up to 14.2 MPa, while detonation structure is characterized in terms of failure diameter. Nitromethane is gelled using fumed silica (CAB-OSIL ®), as well as by the nanoaluminum particles themselves. Use of nanoaluminum particles with fumed silica slightly increases burning rates compared to the use of larger diameter Al particles; however distinct increases in burning rates are found when CABO- SIL is removed and replaced with more energetic aluminum nanoparticles, whose high surface area allows them to also act as the gellant. Mixtures including fumed silica yield a reduced burning rate pressure exponent compared to neat NM, while mixtures of aluminum particles alone show a significant increase. Failure diameters of mixture detonations are found to vary significantly as a function of 38 nm aluminum particle loading, reducing more than 50% from that of neat nitromethane with 12.5% (by mass) aluminum loading. Failure diameter results indicate a relative minimum with respect to particle separation (% loading) which is not observed in other heterogeneous mixtures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-393
Number of pages9
JournalPropellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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