Fragmentation and reaction of structural energetic materials

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Aydelotte, Brady Barrus
Thadhani, Naresh N.
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Structural energetic materials (SEM) are a class of multicomponent materials which may react under various conditions to release energy. Fragmentation and impact induced reaction are not well characterized phenomena in SEMs. The structural energetic systems under consideration here combine aluminum with one or more of the following: nickel, tantalum, tungsten, and/or zirconium. These metal+Al systems were formulated with powders and consolidated using explosive compaction or the gas dynamic cold spray process. Fragment size distributions of the indicated metal+Al systems were explored; mean fragment sizes were found to be smaller than those from homogeneous ductile metals at comparable strain rates, posing a reduced risk to innocent bystanders if used in munitions. Extensive interface failure was observed which suggested that the interface density of these systems was an important parameter in their fragmentation. Existing fragmentation models for ductile materials did not adequately capture the fragmentation behavior of the structural energetic materials in question. A correction was suggested to modify an existing fragmentation model to expand its applicability to structural energetic materials. Fragment data demonstrated that the structural energetic materials in question provided a significant mass of combustible fragments. The potential combustion enthalpy of these fragments was shown to be significant. Impact experiments were utilized to study impact induced reaction in the indicated metal+Al SEM systems. Mesoscale parametric simulations of these experiments indicated that the topology of the microstructure constituents, particularly the stronger phase(s), played a significant role in regulating impact induced reactions. Materials in which the hard phase was topologically connected were more likely to react at a lower impact velocity due to plastic deformation induced temperature increases. When a compliant matrix surrounded stronger, simply connected particles, the compliant matrix accommodated nearly all of the deformation, which limited plastic deformation induced temperature increases in the stronger particles and reduced reactivity. Decreased difference between the strength of the constituents in the material also increased reactivity. The results presented here demonstrate that the fragmentation and reaction of metal+Al structural energetic materials are influenced by composition, microstructure topology, interface density, and constituent mechanical properties.
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