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Basic Research in the Use of Hot Metal Particles in Ignition of Propellant Stephen L. Howard U.S.

Army Research Laboratory Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005-5066 E-mail: Stephen.Howard@us.army.mil Phone: 410 278-6098 Fax: 410 278-6159

Basic Research in the Use of Hot Metal Particles in Ignition of Propellant Stephen L. Howard U.S. Army Research Laboratory Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005-5066 ABSTRACT Recent research has indicated that plasma ignition (1-3) is a capable method to provide precision ignition, performance temperature compensation, as well as satisfactory ignition of high-loading density, high-energy propellants. However, the required electrical power supplies make this approach, in general, untenable. Recently, the advent of novel/nanoenergetic materials has provided a possibility to develop igniter materials that rely upon chemical energy to mimic key elements of plasma performance. In particular for this study, an element purported to be a major player in plasma ignition (4-5) i.e., a cloud of hot metal particles, was studied. Novel metal-containing igniter materials have been characterized for this effect in a new fixture designed for this purpose. A series of propellants have been tested and ranked according to ignitability. While some researchers such as Stiegman (6) have added explosive materials to the nanoenergetic material in an effort to enhance gas generation or to decrease initiation times, this study uses a standard military primer to ignite the nanoenergetic material in order to ascertain the effects of the resulting metal cloud upon fielded military propellants with the eventual goal of a more effective igniter with a smaller threat sensitivity cross section. INTRODUCTION When the primer in a weapon or other ignition system functions properly and the rest of the ignition train follows suit, the result is a rather smooth and rapid pressurization of the main propellant bed that results in the proper functioning of the round. Electrothermal igniters (ETI) had shown effective ignition initiation of propellant, the possibility of thermalinfluenced burn-rate compensation, and satisfactory ignition and combustion of high-loading density, high-energy propellants (1-3, 7-9). Some studies indicated that hot metal particles were implicated in ETI effectiveness (10, 11). Could hot metal particles be generated by chemical means be as effective as those generated by ETI? Metastable intermolecular compounds (MICs) had previously been used in laser ignition for generating hot metal particles (12). The expectation of this study was that such hot and profuse metal particle production processes could lead to more effective ignition of hard-to-ignite propellants. EXPERIMENTAL* Several earlier studies looked at the operating properties of the flash tube in mediumcaliber ammunition (13, 14). Part of these studies was to stress the ignition system in order to determine marginal ignition stimulus upon propellant. The present study used a modified version of the inert simulator fixture used in those studies. The fixture (see Figures 1 and 2) ________________________________
Approved for public release: distribution is unlimited. *Use of manufacturers name does not constitute official endorsement or approval of the use thereof.

was designed similarly to a closed bomb but with capability to measure the pressure of the primary ignition source (in this case an M52A3B1 primer) as well as in the main propellant chamber. The flash tube provided the path of the ignition stimulus from the primer into the propellant chamber. The flash tube also contained a pellet of the candidate igniter material.

Flash Tube Installed


(chamber side view)

Propellant Sample

Figure 1. Views of simulator from top left: top view showing primer well, side view of assembled simulator, flash tube, interior view of simulator from bottom, and view of end plate with a propellant sample on raised mount.

(a) (b) Figure 2. (a) IB52 reference pellet in flash tube and (b) Al/Bi2O3 pellet in flash tube. For the present study, a propellant mount was placed on the plate at the end of the main chamber opposite the primer. On the mount was affixed a propellant sample that would receive the output from the flash tube of the candidate igniter material (in baseline measurements the only energetic material present was in the M52A3B1 primer) used in the ignition train.

Pressure measurements were taken of the primer/flash tube and of the chamber in which the propellant sample was placed. The pressure in the primer/flash tube was used to confirm proper primer function and served as a backup pressure sensor for the chamber pressure. The pressure-time histories were obtained from Kistler 211B1 pressure gauges and recorded on a Nicolet Integra 20 digital oscilloscope prior to transfer of the data to a desktop personal computer (PC) for data analysis. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Several propellants were available in the local service magazine to test for ignition effectiveness. The baseline tests placed a 0.5 gm propellant sample (all subsequent tests used approximately 0.5 gm for the sample) on the raised center mount of the end plate. The mount placed the propellant sample somewhat above the metal surface so that thermal quenching from the metal surface on the combustion of the sample would be minimized. The propellant sample inside of the chamber was approximately 4 cm from the open end of the flash tube (the flash tube was approximately 2.5 cm in length). These dimensions defined a propellant loading density of approximately 0.02 gm/cc. The M52A3B1 primer was placed in the primer well on top of an empty, non-sealed flash tube. A set of reference tests with a single IB52 pellet in the flash tube was then conducted. The same configuration as the baseline tests was used except that a single IB52 pellet was placed in the throat of the flash tube [as shown in Figure 2(a)]. The IB52 pellet is an energetic material used in some medium-caliber ammunition to augment the primer output. The typical use requires three pellets. The single pellet was used so that marginal ignition could still be observed. Averaged results of the baseline and reference tests are summarized in Table 1. Table 1: Baseline and reference test summaries. Propellant Chamber Pressure Prior to Ignition (MPa) 1.4 1.8 1.5 ---1.3 Time to Maximum Pressure (ms) Chamber Pressure Prior to Ignition with IB52 (MPa) 3.6 3.1 2.9 2.5 3.3 Time to Maximum Pressure with IB52 (ms) 78 49 76 550 270

JA2 grain JA2 slab M30 grain XM39 grain HELP1 grain

134 78 108 ---480

The XM39 grain did not ignite for the baseline test. When the IB52 pellet was included in the ignition train, the pressure in the chamber was raised sufficiently that all the candidate propellants did ignite within the 1000 ms window. The first MIC in the series of tests to be accomplished consists of a nearlystoichiometric mixture of 18 nm aluminum (Al) with 90-210 nm bismuth oxide (Bi2O3). The first series of tests deposited the mixture as a slurry on the interior wall of the flash tube that

was subsequently dried. The second series of tests pressed the mixture into a pellet that was placed in the flash tube at the same location as the IB52 pellet as shown in Figure 2. Both series used the same amount of mass of the mixture as the mass of the IB52 pellet (approximately 0.11 gm). The results of the different forms of the mixture are presented in Table 2. Table 2: MIC test summary. Chamber Pressure Prior to Ignition (MPa) Slurry JA2 grain 1.5 JA2 slab 1.7 M30 grain 1.7 XM39 grain ---HELP1 grain 1.5 *TBD To Be Done. Propellant Time to Maximum Pressure (ms) Slurry 107 79 108 ---390 Chamber Pressure Prior to Ignition (MPa) Pellet 3.0 TBD* 1.9 4.2 4.6 Time to Maximum Pressure (ms) Pellet 77 TBD* 124 148 81

It can be noted that the pellet reduced the ignition of the harder-to-ignite propellants. For XM39, the slurry never ignited the propellant. However, with the exception of M30, the pellet greatly reduced the ignition time. MICs can be fabricated in various chemical and physical size combinations. Additional tests for this study included 18 nm Al with nanometer sized particles of Fe2O3, Fe3O4, and CuO. The results are summarized in Table 3. Table 3. Time-to Maximum Pressure for various metal oxide MICs. Propellant Time to Maximum Pressure (ms) Bi2O3 77 TBD 124 148 77 3300 Time to Maximum Pressure (ms) Fe2O3 67 TBD 58 155 89 3100 Time to Maximum Pressure (ms) Fe3O4 63 TBD 80 341 66 3100 Time to Maximum Pressure (ms) CuO 62 TBD 56 126 109 2800

JA2 grain JA2 slab M30 grain XM39 grain HELP1 grain Adiabatic Reaction Temperature (K)

The adiabatic reaction temperature which would define the maximum particle temperature does not explain the ignition time trends shown in Table 3 since in some cases

the coolest reaction provides the smallest ignition time. Other effects such as particle size and shape may affect the ignition time. Since the particles are likely modified during the combustion of the propellant this effect can not be determined. The other possibility is that chemistry specific reactions between the particles and the propellant can occur. With the reduction in ignition times from baseline and reference tests, the use of hotmetal particle producing reactions shows a possibility to reduce the amount of igniter material used in current ammunition and possibly reduce the vulnerability signature of the ammunition. The possibility of chemistry-specific enhancements can provide a better match between propellant and igniter, thus possibly increasing performance at extreme conditions and further reducing vulnerability. SUMMARY Nanometer sized energetics were used for igniter materials for several military propellants. The nanoenergetics were ignited with a standard M52A3B1 military primer. These energetics, upon reaction, produced hot metal particles with minimal gas production. The hot particles were most effective when the nanoenergetics had been pressed into pellet form. With rare exception, the hot-metal particles were successful in dramatically reducing the ignition time of the military propellants tested relative to the baseline and reference cases. REFERENCES 1. Dyvic, J.; Katulka, G. L. ETC Temperature Compensation: Experimental Results of 120-mm Test Firings. Proceedings of the 33rd JANNAF Combustion Meeting, CPIA Publication 653, Vol. II, November 1996, pp 111119. 2. Del Gercio, M. A. Propellant Burn Rate Modification by Plasma Injection. Proceedings of the 34th JANNAF Combustion Meeting, West Palm Beach, FL, October 1997. 3. Nusca, M. J.; White, K. J. Plasma Radiatives and Convective Interactions With Propellant Beds. Proceedings of the 34th JANNAF Combustion Meeting, West Palm Beach, FL, October 1997. 4. Taylor, M. J. Consideration of the Energy Transfer Mechanisms Involved in SETC Ignition System. IEEE Transactions on Magnetics 2003, 39 (1). 5. Weiser V.; Kelzenberg, S.; Eisenreich, N. Influence of the Metal Particle Size on the Ignition of Energetic Materials. Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, 2001, 26 (6), 284-289. 6. Miliham, M. L.; Park, C.-D.; van de Burgt, L. J.; Kramer, M. P.; Stiegman, A. E. Photothermal Initiation of Hybrid Organic/Inorganic Metastable Interstitial Composites: Synergistic Effects on the Dynamics of Energy Release. J Phys Chem A, 2008, 112 (49), 12568-12571.

7. Belyaev, F.; Bobolev, V. K.; Korotkov, A. I.; Sulimov, A. A.; Chuiko, S. V. Transition From Deflagration to Detonation in Condensed Phases, 1973; pp 7880: Nauka, Moskva, translated from Russian, 1975. 8. Bradley, H. H.; Boggs, T. L. Convective Burning in Propellant Defects: A Literature Review; NWC TP 6007; Naval Weapons Center: China Lake, CA, February 1978. 9. Perelmutter, L.; Sudai, M.; Goldenberg, C.; Kimhe, D.; Zeevi, Z.; Arie, S.; Melnik, M.; Melnik, D. Temperature Compensation by Controlled Ignition Power in SEPTC Guns. Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium on Ballistics, September 1996, pp 145152. 10. Taylor, M. J. Consideration of the Energy Transfer Mechanisms Involved in SETC Ignition System. IEEE Transactions on Magnetics 2003, 39 (1). 11. Weiser V.; Kelzenberg, S.; Eisenreich, N. Influence of the Metal Particle Size on the Ignition of Energetic Materials. Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, 2001, 26 (6), 284-289. 12. Howard, S. L.; Morris, J. B.; Beyer, R. A.; Hamlin, S. J.; Martin, J. F.; Burke, G. C.; Doris, T. Laser Initiation Thresholds of Selected Pyrotechnic and MIC Compounds for Medium-Caliber Ammunition; ARL-TR-3818; U.S. Army Research Laboratory: Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, June 2006. 13. Howard, S. L. Effects of Damaged Flash Tube Operation on the Early-Phase Interior Ballistics in 30-mm LW30 Ammunition; ARL-TR-4121; U.S. Army Research Laboratory: Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, May 2007. 14. Howard, S. L. Flash Tube Operation on the Early-Phase Interior Ballistics in 30-mm LW30 Ammunition; ARL-TR-4092; U.S. Army Research Laboratory: Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, April 2007.