Fully dense, aluminum-rich Al-CuO nanocomposite powders for energetic formulations

Demitrios Stamatis, Zhi Jiang, Vern K. Hoffmann, Mirko Schoenitz, Edward L. Dreizin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


The thermite reaction between Al and CuO is well known and highly exothermic. For a conventional thermite mixture, the reaction is rate limited by a slow heterogeneous mass transfer at the metal and oxide interface. The relatively low reaction rate and ignition difficulty have restricted practical applications for this reaction. For newly developed nanocomposed thermites, the interface area is substantially increased resulting in a much higher reaction rate and a new range of possible applications. A top-down approach to preparation of reactive nanocomposite materials in the Al-rich Al-CuO system is discussed in this paper. The materials are prepared using arrested reactive milling, a technique based on high-energy ball milling performed at room temperature and stopped (or arrested) before the exothermic reaction between Al and CuO is triggered mechanically. The products are micron-sized, fully dense powders in which reactive components are uniformly mixed on the nanoscale. Optimized milling conditions for the powders with bulk compositions xAl+3CuO with x=8, 10, and 12 are found. Respective powders are produced and characterized. Particle sizes are measured and the sizes of nano-inclusions of CuO in Al matrix are determined. Reactions occurring in the nanocomposite materials are also characterized by thermal analysis. Ignition of the produced powders is studied by coating them onto an electrically heated filament. Constant volume explosion experiments are used to characterize combustion performance of the produced powders. Compositions of the produced powders and products of their combustion are studied by X-ray powder diffraction. Correlations between combustion performance and material characteristics are established. Ignition for Al-rich Al-CuO nanocomposite powders was observed to occur at 85010K independently of the heating rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-116
Number of pages20
JournalCombustion Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Arrested reactive milling
  • Energetic nanomaterials
  • Ignition kinetics
  • Metal combustion
  • Thermites


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