B. A. Mason, L. J. Groven, and S. F. Son, “The Role of Microstructure Refinement on the Impact Ignition and Combustion Behavior of Mechanically Activated Ni/Al Reactive Composites,” Journal of Applied Physics, Vol. 114(11), p. 113501 (2013). dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4821236
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Metal-based reactive composites have great potential as energetic materials due to their high energy densities and potential uses as structural energetic materials and enhanced blast materials however these materials can be difficult to ignite with typical particle size ranges. Recent work has shown that mechanical activation of reactive powders increases their ignition sensitivity, yet it is not fully understood how the role of microstructure refinement due to the duration of mechanical activation will influence the impact ignition and combustion behavior of these materials. In this work, impact ignition and combustion behavior of compacted mechanically activated Ni/Al reactive powder were studied using a modified Asay shear impact experiment where properties such as the impact ignition threshold, ignition delay time, and combustion velocity were identified as a function of milling time. It was found that the mechanical impact ignition threshold decreases from an impact energy of greater than 500 J to an impact energy of 50 J as the dry milling time increases. The largest jump in sensitivity was between the dry milling times of 25% of critical reaction milling time (tcr) (4.25 min) and 50% tcr (8.5 min) corresponding to the time at which nanolaminate structures begin to form during the mechanical activation process. Differential scanning calorimetry analysis indicates that this jump in the sensitivity to thermal and mechanical impact is dictated by the formation of nanolaminate structures, which reduce the temperature needed to begin the dissolution of nickel into aluminum. It was shown that a milling time of 50%–75% tcr may be near optimal when taking into account both the increased ignition sensitivity of mechanical activated Ni/Al and potential loss in reaction energy for longer milling times. Ignition delays due to the formation of hotspots ranged from 1.2 to 6.5 ms and were observed to be in the same range for all milling times considered less than tcr. Combustion velocities ranged from 20–23 cm/s for thermally ignited samples and from 25–31 cm/s for impacted samples at an impact energy of 200–250 J.