Recently, nanometer-sized aluminum powders became available commercially, and their use as potential additives to propellants, explosives, and pyrotechnics has attracted significant interest. It has been suggested that very low melting temperatures are expected for nanosized aluminum powders and that such low melting temperatures could accelerate oxidation and trigger ignition much earlier than for regular, micron-sized aluminum powders. The objective of this work was to investigate experimentally the melting and oxidation behavior of nanosized aluminum powders. Powder samples with three different nominal sizes of 44, 80, and 121 nm were provided by Nanotechnologies Inc. The particle size distributions were measured using small-angle X-ray scattering. Melting was studied by differential scanning calorimetry where the powders were heated from room temperature to 750 °C in an argon environment. Thermogravimetric analysis was used to measure the mass increase indicative of oxidation while the powders were heated in an oxygen - argon gas mixture. The measured melting curves were compared to those computed using the experimental particle size distributions and thermodynamic models describing the melting temperature and enthalpy as functions of the particle size. The melting behavior predicted by different models correlated with the experimental observations only qualitatively. Characteristic stepwise oxidation was observed for all studied nanopowders. The observed oxidation behavior was well interpreted considering the recently established kinetics of oxidation of micronsized aluminum powders. No correlation was found between the melting and oxidation of aluminum nanopowders.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry