Oxidation and ignition of aluminum particles in the presence of water vapor

Mirko Schoenitz, Salil Mohan, Chi Mon Chen, Edward Dreyzin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


Aluminum oxidation and ignition in water vapor and in mixed water/oxygen environments were studied experimentally. Oxidation experiments were performed using a thermogravimetric technique. Samples pre-heated to specific temperatures were also recovered and produced phases were analyzed using x-ray diffraction. Ignition was studied by feeding aluminum particles into a laser jet. The laser power was increased stepwise to determine the threshold power required for particle ignition. Oxidation of aluminum in water occurs in several steps, which is generally similar to the oxidation of aluminum in oxygen. A new oxidation step occurs at the aluminum melting point only when water vapor is present. This new oxidation step is shown to occur because of an unusual permeability of γ-Al2O3 for OH. Stressed γ-Al 2O3 was observed to behave as a semi-permeable membrane allowing preferential transport of OH but no oxygen towards aluminum surface. It was also observed that transition alumina polymorphs were stabilized in presence of water so that formation of α-Al2O3 was delayed and the particles were completely oxidized before the entire oxide coating was transferred to α-Al2O3. Finally, ignition of aluminum particles in water was observed to occur at much higher laser threshold powers compared to ignition of the same particles in air.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication44th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Event44th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit - Hartford, CT, United States
Duration: Jul 21 2008Jul 23 2008


Other44th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityHartford, CT

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Energy(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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