In-situ thermal analysis of intermetallic and thermite projectiles in high velocity impact experiments

Connor Woodruff, Steven W. Dean, Colton Cagle, Charles Luke Croessmann, Pascal Dubé, Michelle L. Pantoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Particle fragmentation influences thermochemical energy conversion processes in different ways and is of significance in energy generation technologies. Different reactive material formulations trigger varied thermal response in extreme environments such as high velocity impact. This study investigated optical thermal response of powder gun launched intermetallic (Al:Zr) and thermite (Al:MoO3) projectiles using pyrometry and thermography. Projectiles were launched at 1250 m/s into an air-filled chamber and impacted a steel witness plate to create a dust explosion. The pyrometer was configured to measure temperatures directly at the point of impact, while the thermographic system measured temperatures throughout the explosion chamber. Results show that impact temperatures ranged between 3500 and 4000 K, but that the dynamics of energy conversion were different for the intermetallic and thermite projectiles. The intermetallic exhibited secondary reactions due to fragmented debris impacting the walls of the chamber. The thermite exhibited greater gas generation, propelling the debris field, and producing a more stochastic response with faster spreading and dissipation of thermal energy. Unique features such as microexplosions within fragmented particles were also analyzed. While both reactive materials produce similar temperatures, their mechanisms of energy conversion and release are different, indicating the potential of these materials for different ballistic applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122565
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
StatePublished - May 15 2022


  • Aluminum
  • Flame temperature
  • Fragmentation
  • Impact ignition
  • Pyrometry
  • Thermography


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