Explosive applications

A new experimental aluminium/boron material with a particle size of 80nm has been developed under a research contract from the UK MOD by QinetiQ Nanomaterials.

A new experimental aluminium/boron material with a particle size of 80nm has just been developed by QinetiQ Nanomaterials Limited (QNL) under a research contract from the UK MOD.

Dubbed Tesimorph EAB-80, it offers significant potential for applications like pyrotechnics for air bags, rocket motors (both hybrid motors and solid propellant) and other propellants where enhanced energy and faster burn rates are required.

“This is the first time an aluminium boron hybrid particle has been produced at the nanoscale and it’s many times smaller than anything currently available,” explained Dr. Paul Reip, Managing Director of QNL.

“Conventional process methods for aluminium powders tend to produce relatively large, micron size particles. Our experimental work on alloyed and structured metal nanoparticles using our Tesima process not only produces commercial quantities of nanosize aluminium particles, it can also result in hybrid materials and alloys that cannot otherwise be produced.”

QNL develops bespoke metal, oxide, carbide and nitride nanopowders in the 20nm to 100nm particle size range for specific customer applications using its patented Tesima process. The process is continuous, allowing extended operation and is scaleable so that quantities from kilogrammes to tonnes are possible. By incorporating materials at the nanoscale, different physical properties can be added to existing materials, either improving their functionality or giving them unique properties. Powders are manufactured dry but can also be incorporated into other media, such as liquids or polymers.

This latest development is part of QinetiQ’s ongoing work on complex and modified nanomaterials under the Tesimorph brand. Although still in the early stages, it is already creating a range of complex and structured materials, including alloys that for the first time can be made at the nano scale.

Tesimorph ES-25 Stainless Steel which was first manufactured earlier this year was QinetiQ’s first move into this area and others in the family should include shape memory alloys.

By up rating its Tesima production system, QinetiQ is now able to produce continuously reactive metal powders in safety. It can also now develop a range of materials to improve the performance of devices such as airbags and seat belt tensioners as well as devices for the oil and gas industry, aerospace and defence.