Texas Tech University


Energetic materials research started at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SD Mines) in 1991. At that time, Dr. Puszynski research group was conducting research focusing on self-propagating high-temperature synthesis of advanced ceramic and intermetallic materials and mathematical modeling of combustion front propagation in condensed phase systems. The research evolved later toward investigation of ultrafast reactions in systems consisting of fuel and oxidizer in a form of mixed nanopowders. The DoD sponsored research resulted in several patents and in 1999 a new spin off company (Innovative Materials and Process (IMP), LLC) was formed in Rapid City, SD. Since that time the company steadily has grown and now it is responsible for the transition of the nanothermite technology to real application in percussion and electric primers. A fully automated process has been developed by this company.

A new generation of graduate students was trained at SD Mines and they are making a successful careers in industry and academia in the area of energetic materials. As an example Dr. Groven is continuing her basic research at SD Mines as a very successful assistant professor and Dr. Doorenbos is making his R&D contributions into activities undertaken by IMP.

This presentation will focus on the successful path from basic studies to the application in the field of energetic materials.

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Dr. Jan Puszynski
received his PhD in chemical engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague in 1980. In 1982, he joined Chemical Engineering Department at the State University of New York at Buffalo, NY where he worked as a visiting assistant professor and later as a research professor for 9 years. In 1991, he joined the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) as a faculty member. During his tenure at SDSM&T, he worked as a full professor of chemical engineering, college dean, and recently in April 2014 he was appointed as Vice President for Research.

Dr. Puszynski was educating both undergraduate and graduate students at SDSMT for almost twenty-three years. During his tenure at SDSMT, he received multi-million awards and he established both national and international reputation in self-propagating high-temperature synthesis of advanced ceramic and intermetallic materials.

Since 1996, Professor Puszynski has been working as the PI on several R&D projects funded by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Division (NSWC IHEODTD) and other DoD organizations. In 1999/2000, he spent one year-long sabbatical leave working at NSWC IHEODTD. During his stay at Indian Head he assisted this Navy's Center in designing, building, and testing of a new installation for continuous production of aluminum nanopowders using a low pressure evaporation/condensation process. At that time, this was the first installation in USA capable of producing of hundreds of grams of Al nanopowders. The aluminum nanopowders produced by the R&D team from NSWC IHEODT, Dr. Puszynski was a member, were favorable tested by the Navy, Army, Air Force, DoE, and other government agencies. Later on, Professor Puszynski got involved in a full characterization of aluminum nanopowders and development of metastable nanoenergetic composites (MNC). In 2001, Dr. Puszynski together with research collaborators from three other U.S. universities received the first Defense University Research Initiative on Nanotechnology grant from the Army Research Office and his research group joined the DoD Center on Nanoenergetic Research.

As a result of a close interaction with Aartridge Actuated Devices and propellant Actuated Devices (CAD/PAD) Division of NSWC IHEODT, Dr. Puszynski in 1999 established Innovative Materials and Processes, LLC company (IMP). Since its inception, IMP has significantly grown and got involved in numerous direct contracts and SBIR projects funded by U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. Dr. Puszynski, jointly with his R&D team at IMP Company developed an automated process of water based mixing and precise metering of nanothermite slurry into application hardware. Recently, this integrated process is considered by the U.S. Army as an alternative technology for future large-scale production of small and medium caliber primers.

In 2011/2012, Dr. Puszynski spent his second sabbatical leave at CAD/PAD Division at NSWC IHEODT. During his last stay at this organization he was involved in development of a new propellant replacing ammonium perchlorate as a key oxidizer. His other duties included troubleshooting of key technological aspects of production of propellants for CAD/PAD devices.

Professor Puszynski's expertise is in reaction engineering, energetic materials, materials science and mathematical modeling of reactive systems. He has published over one-hundred seventy five scientific papers and presented more than two-hundred papers and invited seminars at national and international conferences. During his professional career, he supervised numerous graduate M.S. and Ph.D. students, who presently work in industry and academia. Professor Puszynski is also a co-author of several patents submitted by CAD/PAD Division at NSWC IHEODT and other DoD organizations. He is also a recipient of several national and international awards. In the past, he served as a president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Energetic Materials Group, which promotes research and education in the area of energetics. In 2010, he was elected as a fellow of AIChE and recently received Life Achievement Award from Joint Navy/Air Force Program in recognition of his enduring contributions to the CAD/PAD Joint Program.