Development of a Nanothermite-Based Propellant Initiator for Army Munitions

Period of Performance: 02/10/2011 - 08/02/2011


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Eltron Research, Inc.
4600 Nautilus Court South
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator


This proposed SBIR Phase I program addresses the development of a nanothermite-based initiator (primer) for use in Army munitions. This technology will enable a propellant initiator producing high maximum pressure, long pressure duration, and insensitivity to electrostatic discharge (ESD). Initiators for solid propellants which are based on nanothermites offer significant advantages for munitions, including increased burn rate, optimal pressure wave speed, and high maximum pressure of long duration. The proposed Phase I will investigate this application, using selected nanothermites prepared by simple, inexpensive, scalable procedures: in particular, nanometer-scale metal/metal oxide systems will be prepared by solution and mechanochemical methods. Combination of these with selected nitro-polymers will ensure gas generating capacity and other features essential for initiators. Phase I research will consist of identifying suitable nanothermites and an approach for comprising them, physical and chemical characterization of materials, incorporation into initiators, and laboratory testing of the initiators. Ignition delay time, burn rate, maximum pressure, and duration of maximum pressure will be measured. These are features of primer systems that Eltron intends to improve with the proposed technology. Phase II would consist of the optimization of nanothermite materials, scale-up of synthesis of nanothermites and primer formulation, and the testing of primers.