Variations in aluminum particle surface energy and reactivity induced by annealing and quenching

Alan Williams, Igor Altman, Daniel Burnett, Ezequiel Gutierrez Zorrilla, Armando R. Garcia, Colton Cagle, Charles Luke Croessmann, Michelle Pantoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Surface interface properties of fuel particles play an important role in their reactivity. Since diffusion-controlled reactions occur at the interface between a solid fuel and oxidizer, variations in surface energy alter diffusion rates in ways that can be measured macroscopically. In this study, surface energy was purposefully altered by annealing and quenching aluminum (Al) (3–4.5 µm particle diameter) powder. Bulk aluminum exhibits reduced surface energy resulting from annealing and quenching. In the current work, annealing and quenching was extended to powder media to assess the magnitude of reduced surface energy. An inverse gas chromatography (iGC) technique was used to energetically characterize the particle surface for both dispersive and polar properties. Results show up to a 40% decrease in surface energy with annealing and quenching. Both untreated and thermally processed powder were reacted by launching projectiles into a chamber where the ensuing powder explosions were examined. Experiments were performed in ambient air and repeated in argon environments at projectile velocities of 1200 m/s. Overall, higher surface energy resulted in a more pronounced system performance, i.e., in stronger reactions with higher probability of ignition and combustion. A theory explaining the differences in reactivity links surface energy with a mechanism for particle reaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152185
JournalApplied Surface Science
StatePublished - Mar 30 2022


  • Aluminum combustion
  • Annealing and quenching
  • Inverse gas chromatography
  • Particles
  • Surface energy


Dive into the research topics of 'Variations in aluminum particle surface energy and reactivity induced by annealing and quenching'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this