Texas Tech University

Mechanical Engineering Professor Produces More Powerful TNT

By: Amanda Bowman 

Michelle Pantoya

Texas Tech University's Michelle Pantoya, the J.W. Wright Regents Chairwoman and a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, and a group of her colleagues at Aberdeen Proving Ground, a U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's (CCDC) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Aberdeen, Maryland, have shown a nearly 30 percent improvement in the detonation velocity of TNT through the addition of altered aluminum particles.

"This is the very first time I've ever seen a metal fuel particle react at timescales relevant to a detonation," Pantoya said. "It's like the Holy Grail for metal particle combustion because particles like boron, aluminum and silicon have so much more energy stored within them than any explosive. Taking the enormous amount of energy in metal fuel particles and trying to create a way to release some of that energy at timescales that explosives release them could mean tremendous advancements in the way we generate energy for our future."