Purdue University Graduate School
Walls_MS_Thesis_Final.pdf (1.61 MB)

Investigating the Ability to Preheat and Ignite Energetic Materials Using Electrically Conductive Materials

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posted on 2020-07-29, 16:22 authored by Marlon D Walls Jr.Marlon D Walls Jr.
The work discussed in this document seeks to integrate conductive additives with energetic material systems to offer an alternative source of ignition for the energetic material. By utilizing the conductive properties of the additives, ohmic heating may serve as a method for preheating and igniting an energetic material. This would allow for controlled ignition of the energetic material without the use of a traditional ignition source, and could also result in easier system fabrication.
For ohmic heating to be a viable method of preheating or igniting these conductive energetic materials, there cannot be significant impact on the energetic properties of the energetic materials. Various mass solids loadings of graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) were mixed with a reactive mixture of aluminum (Al)/polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) to test if ohmic heating ignition was feasible and to inspect the impact that these loadings had on the energetic properties of the Al/PVDF. Results showed that while ohmic heating was a plausible method for igniting the conductive energetic samples, the addition of GNPs degraded the energetic properties of the Al/PVDF. The severity of this degradation was minimized at lower solids loadings of GNPs, but this consequently resulted in larger voltage input requirements to ignite the conductive energetic material. This was attributable to the decreased conductivities of the samples at lower solids loading of GNPs.
In hopes of conserving the energetic properties of the Al/PVDF while integrating the conductive additives, additive manufacturing techniques, more specifically fused filament fabrication, was used to print two distinct materials, Al/PVDF and a conductive composite, into singular parts. A CraftBot 3 was used to selectively deposit Conductive Graphene PLA (Black Magic) filament with a reactive filament comprised of a PVDF binder with 20% mass solids loadings of aluminum. Various amounts of voltage were applied to these conductive energetic samples to quantify the time to ignition of the Al/PVDF as the applied voltage increased. A negative correlation was discovered between the applied voltage and time to ignition. This result was imperative for demonstrating that the reaction rate could be influenced with the application of higher applied voltages.
Fused filament fabrication was also used to demonstrate the scalability of the dual printed conductive energetic materials. A flexural test specimen made of the Al/PVDF was printed with an embedded strain gauge made of the Black Magic filament. This printed strain gauge was tested for dual purposes: as an igniter and as a strain sensor, demonstrating the multi-functional use of integrating conductive additives with energetic materials.
In all, the experiments in this document lay a foundation for utilizing conductive additives with energetic materials to offer an alternative form of ignition. Going forward, ohmic heating ignition may serve as a replacement to current, outdated methods of ignition for heat sensitive energetic materials.




Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jeffrey Rhoads

Additional Committee Member 2

Steven Son

Additional Committee Member 3

George Chiu