Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Stephen P Beaudoin

Committee Member 1

Steve F Son

Committee Member 2

James Caruthers

Committee Member 3

James D Litster

Committee Member 4

Farshid Sadeghi


Historically, adhesion research related to energetic materials has been focused on examining the interaction between explosive crystals and the substrate of interest. However, this neglects the effects of the binder material in compounds such as Composition C-4. These types of explosives are actually agglomerates comprised of the energetic particulate material and some manner of liquid binder. In the case of Composition C-4, the energetic material is RDX (cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine) bound by a “liquid” mixture of rubber, plasticizer, and oil. By creating a simulant with the same mechanical properties as ‘live’ compounds, we may understand how the live materials behave during swabbing, improving the ability of swabbing in a security environment to effectively detect these non-ideal plastic explosives. Previous work to this effect has attempted to quantify the effects of applied force, while assuming a constant swipe speed. However, our results indicate that not only is the binder itself non-Newtonian, but the overall agglomerate behaves in a non-Newtonian manner, as well. Hence, the swipe speed could perhaps be one of the principal factors in optimizing contact-based sampling.