Melt dispersion mechanism for fast reaction of aluminum nano- and micron-scale particles: Flame propagation and SEM studies

Valery I. Levitas, Michelle L. Pantoya, Steven Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Flame propagation studies for Al nanoparticles (80nm) and micron particles (3-4.5μm) mixed with MoO3 in both an open and confined burn setup were examined. A scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis of the reactants and products reveals quantitative size data that contributes toward an understanding of the governing reaction mechanisms. For the confined burn tube experiments, nanoscaled reactants exhibited a flame speed of 960m/s, the same as has been reported in previous experiments. Micron scale particles exhibited a flame speed of 402m/s, much higher than the 244m/s obtained previously for 1-3μm particles. These flame speeds are in quantitative agreement with predictions based on the recently developed melt-dispersion mechanism (MDM) describing the reaction of Al particles. It also demonstrates that some micron particles can reach flame speeds just 58% lower than the fastest nanoparticles, while micron scale particles are less expensive and do not have the pre-combustion safety and environmental issues typical of nanoparticles. The SEM analysis reveals a significant (at least by factor of 3.7 for nanoparticles) reduction in Al particle size post combustion, which is in agreement with the MDM and in contrast to the predictions based on diffusion mechanisms. Open burn experiments with nanoscale reactants have flame speeds of 12m/s and product particle sizes almost as small as those in the burn tube experiments. However, the presence of some large particles, which may grow based on the diffusion mechanism, exclude evaporation and the homogenous nucleation mechanism. For open burn experiments with micron reactants, with flames speeds of 9m/s, SEM analysis shows a molten-resolidified product with no distinguishable particles and cavities containing numerous nanoparticles with a measured diameter of 36nm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1668-1677
Number of pages10
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Flame propagation
  • Melt-dispersion mechanism
  • Oxidation
  • Particle size


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