Desensitizing ignition of energetic materials when exposed to accidental fire

Kade Poper, Billy R. Clark, Michelle L. Pantoya, Ronald J. Heaps, Michael A. Daniels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Composite energetic materials combine fuel and oxidizers for high energy density exothermic reactions and are used for ordnance, industrial and localized power generation applications. This study focuses on examining an additive to a mixture of aluminum (Al) and copper oxide (CuO) to decrease ignition sensitivity under accidental fire exposure conditions. Ammonium nitrate (AN) was incorporated into Al+CuO, as a 1:1 replacement for CuO, for varied equivalence ratios and examined for ignition and combustion when exposed to slow and fast heating rate ignition conditions. The goal was to develop an Al+CuO+AN formulation that would perform comparable to Al+CuO when intentionally ignited, but would not ignite in an accidental fire. Experimental results show that Al+CuO+AN with an equivalence ratio (ER) ranging from 4.0-5.5 inerts the reactants when exposed to slow heating conditions, yet ignites with comparative combustion performance to the baseline Al+CuO mixture when exposed to fast heating conditions. These results are consistent with thermochemical simulations of the heat of combustion and adiabatic flame temperature for the respective reactions. This study presents a new approach for tailoring composite energetic materials toward accidental fire safety by exploiting the early stage decomposition kinetics of AN, which are activated only by slow heating ignition conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-43
Number of pages5
JournalFire Safety Journal
StatePublished - Jun 29 2015


  • Aluminum
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Combustion
  • Energetic materials
  • Ignition sensitivity
  • Safety
  • Thermites


Dive into the research topics of 'Desensitizing ignition of energetic materials when exposed to accidental fire'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this