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"Combustion Effects of Environmentally Altered Molybdenum Trioxide Nanocomposites"

K. Moore and M. L. Pantoya

Propellants Explosives Pyrotechnics, v 31, n 3, June, 2006, p 182-187

Nanocomposite thermite mixtures are currently under development for many primer applications due to their high energy densities, high ignition sensitivity, and low release of toxins into the environment. However, variability and inconsistencies in combustion performance have not been sufficiently investigated. Environmental interactions with the reactants are thought to be a contributing factor to these variabilities. Combustion velocity experiments were conducted on aluminum (Al) and molybdenum trioxide (MoO3) mixtures to investigate the role of environmental interactions such as light exposure and humidity. While the Al particles were maintained in an ambient, constant environment, the MoO3 particles were exposed to UV or fluorescent light, and highly humid environments. Results show that UV and fluorescent lighting over a period of days does not significantly contribute to performance deterioration. However, a humid environment severely decreases combustion performance if the oxidizer particles are not heat-treated. Heat treatment of the MoO3 greatly increases the material's ability to resist water absorption, yielding more repeatable combustion performance. This work further quantifies the role of the environment in the decrease of combustion performance of nanocomposites over time.