Combustion of fine aluminum and magnesium powders in water

Amy Corcoran, Stefano Mercati, Hongqi Nie, Massimo Milani, Luca Montorsi, Edward L. Dreizin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Micron-sized metal powders carried by a nitrogen flow were fed along the axis of a cylindrical hydrogen/oxygen diffusion flame. The particles ignited and burned in the water vapor at approximately 2500K. Experiments were performed at atmospheric pressure. The environment in which particles burned was characterized in detail using computational fluid dynamics. The computations confirmed that the metal powders burned in water while the effect of oxygen and other oxidizing species could be neglected. Combustion was characterized experimentally for micron-sized powders of both aluminum and magnesium. Particle size distributions were measured using low-angle laser light scattering. Optical emission of the burning particles was recorded using filtered photomultiplier tubes. Measured durations of individual particle emission pulses were assumed to represent their burn times; these data were classified into logarithmically spaced time bins. The distribution of the particle burn times was correlated with their size distributions assuming that larger size particles burned longer. It was observed that correlation between the burn times, t, and particle diameters, D, can be approximately described as t?D0.64 and t?D0.68 for aluminum and magnesium powders, respectively. The results were compared to previous reports and possible reasons for discrepancies between the present and earlier results were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2242-2250
Number of pages9
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • Hydrogen production
  • Metal combustion
  • Particle burn time
  • Underwater propulsion


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