Multi Scale Modeling of Ignition and Combustion of Micro and Nano Aluminum Particles

Open Access
Puri, Puneesh
Graduate Program:
Mechanical Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
July 18, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Dr Vigor Yang, Committee Chair
  • Richard A Yetter, Committee Member
  • Daniel Connell Haworth, Committee Member
  • Robert Francis Kunz, Committee Member
  • Dr Steve Son, Committee Member
  • Ignition and Combustion
  • Energetic Materials
  • Nano Scales
  • Aluminum
  • Modeling
  • Molecular Dynamics
With renewed interest in nano scale energetic materials like aluminum, many fundamental issues concerning the ignition and combustion characteristics at nano scales, remain to be clarified. The overall aim of the current study is the establishment of a unified theory accommodating the various processes and mechanisms involved in the combustion and ignition of aluminum particles at micro and nano scales. A comprehensive review on the ignition and combustion of aluminum particles at multi scales was first performed identifying various processes and mechanisms involved. Research focus was also placed on the establishment of a Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulation tool to investigate the characteristics of nano-particulate aluminum through three major studies. The general computational framework involved parallelized pre-processing, post-processing and main code with capability to simulate different ensembles using appropriate algorithms. Size dependence of melting temperature of pure aluminum particles was investigated in the first study. Phenomena like dynamic co-existence of solid and liquid phase and effect of surface charges on melting were explored. The second study involved the study of effect of defects in the form of voids on melting of bulk and particulate phase aluminum. The third MD study was used to analyze the thermo-mechanical behavior of nano-sized aluminum particles with total diameter of 5-10 nm and oxide thickness of 1-2.5 nm. The ensuing solid-solid and solid-liquid phase changes in the core and shell, stresses developed within the shell, and the diffusion of aluminum cations in the oxide layer, were explored in depth for amorphous and crystalline oxide layers. In the limiting case, the condition for pyrophoricity/explosivity of nano-particulate aluminum was analyzed and modified. The size dependence of thermodynamic properties at nano scales were considered and incorporated into the existing theories developed for micro and larger scales. Finally, a phenomenological theory for ignition and combustion of aluminum particles was proposed. The whole time history from ignition till particle burnout was divided into five stages. An attempt was made to explore different modes of ignition based on the effect of pressure, temperature, oxidizer, oxide thickness and particle diameter and was investigated using length and time scales involved during ignition and combustion.