RAPID HEATING AND CHEMICAL SPECIATION CHARACTERIZATION FOR COMBUSTION PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS OF METALLIZED, NANOSCALE THERMITES AND PVDF BOUND SOLID PROPELLANT COMPOSITIONS
Rehwoldt, Miles Christian
Zachariah, Michael R
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Energetic materials research focuses on performance analysis of cost-effective solid materials which safely, precisely, and efficiently transitions stored chemical potential energy to kinetic energy at a rate throttled through chemical or architectural means. Heterogenous compositions of metal fuels and solid materials with a high storage capacity of condensed oxidizing elements, such as oxygen and/or fluorine, is a class of energetic material of interest given its relatively high reaction enthalpies and adiabatic flame temperatures. In the wake of the earliest instances of metal fuels being used as a high energy additive during World War II, characterizing the reaction mechanisms of micron and nanoparticle aluminum fuels with various oxidizer sources has been a primary subject of research within the solid energetics community. The advent of nanotechnologies within the past two decades brought with it the promise of a prospective revolution within the energetics community to expand the utility and characterization of metallized energetic materials in solid propellants and pyrotechnics. Significant prior research has mapped reactivity advantages, as well as the many short comings of aluminum-based nanoscale energetic formulations. Examples of short comings include difficulties of materials processing, relative increase in native oxide shell thickness, and particle aggregate sintering before primary reaction. The less than flaw-less promises of nanoscale aluminum fuels have thus become the impetus for the development of novel architectural solutions and material formulations to eliminate drawbacks of nanomaterial energetics while maintaining and improving the benefits. This dissertation focuses on further understanding reaction mechanisms and overall combustion behavior of nanoscale solid energetic composite materials and their potential future applications. My research branches out from the heavy research involved in binary, aluminum centric systems by developing generalized intuition of reaction and combustion behaviors through modeling efforts and coupling time-of-flight mass spectrometry to rapid heating techniques and novel modes of product sampling. The studies emphasize reaction mechanisms and microwave sensitivities of under-utilized compositions using metal fuels such as titanium, generalize the understanding of the interaction of fluoropolymer binders with metal fuels and oxidizer particles, and characterize how multi-scale architectural structure-function relations of materials effect ignition properties and energy release rates.