Laboratory-Scale Burning and Characterizing of Composite Solid Propellant for Studying Novel Nanoparticle Synthesis Methods



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This thesis examines the effects of nanoparticle, metal-oxide additives on the burning rate of composite solid propellants. Recent advancements in chemical synthesis techniques have allowed for the production of improved solid rocket propellant nano-scale additives. These additives show larger burning rate increases in composite propellants compared to previous additive generations. In addition to improving additive effectiveness, novel synthesis methods can improve manufacturability, reduce safety risks, and maximize energy efficiency of nano-scale burning rate enhancers.

Several different nano-sized additives, each titania-based, were tested and compared for the same baseline AP/HTPB formulas and AP size distributions. The various methods demonstrate the evolution in our methods from spray-dried powders to pre-mixing the additive in the HTPB binder, and finally to a method of producing the additive directly in the binder as a nano-assembly. Burning rate increases as high as 80% at additive mass loadings of less than 0.5% were seen in non-aluminized, ammonium perchlorate-based propellants over the pressure spectrum of 500 psi (3.5 MPa) to 2250 psi (15.5 MPa). Increases in burning rate up to 73% were seen in similarly formulated aluminized propellants.

During the past several years, the research team has refined laboratory-scale techniques for quickly and reliably assessing the mixing and performance of composite propellants with catalytic nanoparticle additives. This thesis also documents some of the details related to repeatability, accuracy, and realism of the methods used in the team?s recent nano-additive research; it also introduces the latest techniques for producing propellants with nano-sized additives and provides new burning rate results for the entire scope of additives and mixing methods. Details on the propellant characterization methods with regard to physical and combustion properties are provided. Snapshots from atmospheric propellant combustion videos taken with a Photron FASTCAM SA3 high-speed camera are included along with existing pressure and light-emission responses.