Explosive nanotechnology: Highly reactive nanoenergetic formulations based on periodate salts

Aug 14, 2013
Explosive nanotechnology: Highly reactive nanoenergetic formulations based on periodate salts

(Phys.org) —Whether they are rocket propellants or fireworks, all explosives contain a fuel and an oxidizing agent. Sometimes both are in the same molecule, like in TNT; sometimes the explosive is a mixture, like Thermite. In mixtures, the smaller the particles, the higher the explosive force. American scientists have reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie a new aerosol spray drying method for the generation of periodate nanoparticles that can be used in the formulation of highly reactive explosives.

Energetic mixtures usually have a higher than with both components in a single molecule. However, mixtures generally release the energy more slowly because the reaction partners have to find each other. Nanoenergetics researchers are attempting to achieve faster and more intensive mixing of the fuel and oxidizing agents by drastically reducing the scale of the distances involved. In most nanoenergetic formulations, nanoaluminum (aluminum nanoparticles) is used as the fuel and as the oxidizing agents. Highly oxidizing compounds with high , such as perchlorate are an alternative, but cannot be stored as long, partly because they are very hygroscopic. Perchlorates can also cause health problems and environmental damage. Periodates are possible substitutes. They are minimally toxic and don't absorb water. However, the production of nanoparticles of periodate salts has proven very difficult. A team led by Michael R. Zachariah at the University of Maryland has now overcome this problem. Their secret is a simple but versatile aerosol spray drying process. An aqueous solution is continuously atomized to form microdroplets, which give off water as they dry, forming nanoscopic grains of salt.

In formulations with nanoaluminum as fuel, this new nanoperiodate demonstrated superior reactivity. "Our formulations resulted in the highest gas pressure pulses described to date for nanoenergetic materials," reports Zachariah.

By using special electron microscopic and mass spectrometric techniques in which the samples can be heated extremely fast, the researchers explored the reaction mechanisms involved. They discovered that the release of gas-phase oxygen is critical for the ignition and combustion of the periodate formulations. The decomposition of potassium periodate (KIO4) takes place in two steps. First oxygen splits off. The resulting KIO3 then further decomposes to potassium iodide (KI) and oxygen. "Different from most metal oxide decompositions, the first step of periodate decomposition is exothermic, releasing heat," explains Zachariah. "This is presumably the reason for the low ignition temperature."

Explore further: Advanced molecular 'sieves' could be used for carbon capture

More information: Super-reactive Nanoenergetic Gas Generators Based on Periodate Salts, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201303545

Related Stories

Environmentally friendly rockets

May 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Many rockets, satellites, and spacecraft are driven by hydrazine, sometimes with an oxidizing agent like nitric acid or dinitrogen tetroxide. When filling tanks with these highly toxic substances, ...

Charge your mobile phone with formic acid?

May 27, 2013

(Phys.org) —Surprisingly the answer is yes. With the technology of today it is possible to use environmental friendly formic acid in fuel cell powering your mobile phone or laptop. Physicist Florian Nitze, ...

Recommended for you

A dye with tunable optical characteristics

Sep 12, 2014

Researchers from RIKEN and the University of Tokyo have developed an organic dye molecule with tunable light-absorption and color characteristics. This development promises to open the door to the creation ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2013
"Major advances in substituting the fission trigger by non-nuclear components need to be made before the scientific feasibility of pure fusion weapons can be established," said Hisham Zerriffi, a physicist and co-author of the report. "Until now, the hurdles have been too huge to overcome. But experiments are now being conducted and devices are now under construction that may achieve explosive thermonuclear ignition without fissile materials."

"Samuel T. Cohen, the "father of the neutron bomb", claimed for some time that red mercury is a powerful explosive-like chemical known as a ballotechnic. The energy released during its reaction is allegedly enough to directly compress the secondary without the need for a fission primary in a thermonuclear weapon. He claimed that he learned that the Soviet scientists perfected the use of red mercury and used it to produce a number of softball-sized pure fusion bombs weighing as little as 10 lb (4.5 kg)..."
1 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2013
"Just as society in the US seems to start stabilizing, preemplaced pure fusion weapons detonate, destroying Washington DC and Chicago.

This is followed by additional pure fusion weapon strikes, which are determined to be weapons that are being created on the moon by nanotech replicators."

"A pure fusion neutron bomb is more deadly than a twenty-kiloton nuclear device--and it can be carried by one man. And now, it will be up to Dr. Graham Higgins and the United States' Counterterrorist Center to search out and destroy the facilities manufacturing the bombs, before America's enemies set one off on U.S. soil."

"The new type of non nuclear explosives are called ballotechnic materials. Cohen says that unlike other explosives, they produce no bang, no cloud, keep the same shape while they detonate, "but, Boy!, do they get hot!" Ballotechnics may have already led to very small fission bombs as well as pure fusion."