Characterization of Energetic Materials at Extreme Conditions

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Project Description

Overview and Significance

Commonly available nonconventional energetic materials such as peroxides, ammonium nitrates (AN) and reactive materials (e.g., mixtures of metals and metal oxides), as well as conventional plastic explosives primarily made of PETN, RDX, HMX and TATB, are often the materials of terrorist acts and become threats to homeland security. Thus, characterizing thermochemical properties of these materials at the blast-relevant conditions of pressure, temperature and composition is critical for developing chemical methods to mitigate the associated threats. Our approach is to investigate phase and chemical stabilities of selected energetic materials at high pressures, temperatures and chemical environments, help characterize critical aspects of the energetic processes such as deflagration and detonation, and develop novel chemical mitigation methods that make it difficult to formulate detonable quantities of explosives.

We have completed the investigation of chemical sensitivity of ammonium perchlorate (AP) and the main group I peroxides, including Li2O2 and Na2O2 adding to our previously studied H2O2. The experiments employ diamond anvil cells (DAC), confocal micro-Raman spectroscopy and third-generation synchrotron X-ray diffraction. The results on both AP and peroxides are significant not only to understanding fundamental properties of these high-value energetic materials, but also to gaining insights into what causes chemical sensitivity in energetic materials and finding the conditions limiting blast or detonation of AP and peroxides.

The project has resulted in one new PhD graduate, Mihindra Dunuwille, in Chemistry, WSU (May, 2015),whose thesis subject was “Pressure-induced Physical and Chemical Changes of Non-conventional Energetic Materials: Nitrate, Perchlorate and Peroxide Chemistries at High Pressures and High Temperatures”, as well as two major technical manuscripts reporting the major findings: (1) “Phase Diagram of Ammonium Perchlorate”; and (2) “Structural Phase Transitions in Li2O2 under High Pressures”, both are being prepared for publication
in J. Chem. Phys. (2015).

We will continue to determine static properties of other energetic materials of high value to DHS – including reactive metals, composites and thermite mixtures. As well as to investigate dynamic properties of reactive and energetic materials that are emerging threats to homeland security.
Phase 2 Year 2 Annual Report
Project Leader
  • Choong-Shik Yoo
    Washington State University

Faculty and Staff Currently Involved in Project
  • Minseob Kim
    Post Doctoral
    Washington State University

Students Currently Involved in Project
  • Mihindra Dunuwille
    Washington State University
  • Junghun Nam
    Washington State University
  • Young Jay Ryu
    Washington State University