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Understanding the Plasma-Propellant Interaction through Experimental Modeling

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Final rept. 1 Jun 2004-31 May 2008

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The goal of the project was to develop an understanding of the plasma-propellant interaction, specifically the ignition of RDX by ETC. Based on experimental results a model of ETC ignition was developed in which ignition occurs through a process that resembles that of a primary explosive more than a secondary explosive. In this process, hydrogen ions in the ETC igniter plasma implant into the RDX surface are rapidly neutralized. The resulting hydrogen atoms then attack an RDX molecule, abstracting a hydrogen atom from one of the CH2 groups to form a sub-surface hydrogen molecule. Loss of hydrogen triggers double bond formation releasing a NO2 molecule. Confined to the same volume of space, the NO2 and H2 rapidly react to form NO and H2O releasing heat directly at the site of reaction. Heat release directly at the reaction site is characteristic of a primary explosive and results in rapid thermal run-away and ultimately in ignition. In addition to this work, a new ignition method has been developed that uses the laser ablation of a polymer overlayer to form a plasma that ignites the RDX. Finally, investigations of this new ignition method have led to fundamental studies of laser ablation.

Subject Categories:

  • Lasers and Masers
  • Mechanics
  • Combustion and Ignition

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