Reactions leading to ignition in fully dense nanocomposite Al-oxide systems

Alexandre Ermoline, Mirko Schoenitz, Edward L. Dreizin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Aluminum-metal oxide energetic compositions with components mixed on the nano-scale are substantially more reactive than conventional thermites and are of interest as potential additives to propellants, explosives, and pyrotechnics. For such nanocomposite materials prepared by Arrested Reactive Milling (ARM), the exothermic reactions leading to ignition were detected to begin at relatively low temperatures. These materials are prepared by mechanical processing at room temperature, and the nature of the interface present between aluminum and the oxidizer (metal oxide, e.g., CuO, MoO3, Bi2O3, etc.) is unknown. Experiments using a Thermal Activity Monitor (TAM III) quantify the reaction rates between aluminum and CuO at temperatures between 303 and 373K. Results of the present TAM III measurements and results of earlier measurements using differential scanning calorimetry for the same 2Al·3CuO nanocomposite are interpreted considering two different reaction models. The rate-limiting step is described either as a conventional thermally activated diffusion, or using the Cabrera-Mott model developed originally for oxidation of fresh metal surfaces. It is shown that the thermally activated diffusion model is inadequate for description of the low-temperature reactions observed in nanocomposite thermites prepared by ARM. The Cabrera-Mott model provides a description qualitatively matching the experimental results; achieving the quantitative match is expected to be possible by adjusting the model parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1076-1083
Number of pages8
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Heterogeneous reactions
  • Microcalorimetry
  • Reactive materials
  • Thermal analysis
  • Thermites


Dive into the research topics of 'Reactions leading to ignition in fully dense nanocomposite Al-oxide systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this