Piezoelectric ignition of nanocomposite energetic materials

Eric Collins, Michelle Pantoya, Andreas A. Neuber, Michael Daniels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Piezoelectric initiators are a unique form of ignition for energetic material because the current and voltage are tied together by impact loading on the crystal. This study examines the ignition response of an energetic composite composed of aluminum and molybdenum trioxide nanopowders to the arc generated from a lead zirconate and lead titanate piezocrystal. The mechanical stimuli used to activate the piezocrystal varied to assess ignition voltage, power, and delay time of aluminum-molybdenum trioxide for a range of bulk powder densities. Results show a high dielectric strength leads to faster ignition times because of the higher voltage delivered to the energetic. Ignition delay is under 0.4 ms, which is faster than observed with thermal or shock ignition. Electric ignition of composite energetic materials is a strong function of interparticle connectivity, and thus the role of bulk density on electrostatic discharge ignition sensitivity is a focus of this study. Results show that the ignition delay times are dependent on the powder bulk density with an optimum bulk density of 50%. Packing fractions and electrical conductivity were analyzed and aid in explaining the resulting ignition behavior as a function of bulk density.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-18
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


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