Processing and Characterization of Energetic and Structural Behavior of Nickel Aluminum with Polymer Binders
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A polymer-based composite reinforced with a mixture of Ni and Al powders was investigated as an example of a multifunctional structural energetic material. Micron-sized Ni powder, nano/micron-sized Al powders, and Teflon or epoxy were fabricated as bulk materials by pressing or casting. The thermally initiated reaction response of these materials was evaluated using differential thermal analysis coupled with x-ray diffraction. The analyses showed evidence of thermally initiated reactions between Ni and Al powders, as well as between Ni+Al and Teflon. Nano-sized Al powder showed a preference for reaction with Teflon over Ni, while micron-sized Al reacted strongly with Ni regardless of the presence of a binder. Teflon was shown to be very reactive with the Ni+Al/nano Al mixture, whereas epoxy was not reactive with the metallic powders, and also inhibited reaction between Ni and nano Al. The structural/mechanical behavior of these materials was evaluated using elastic and plastic property measurements via static and dynamic compression tests. Dynamic mechanical testing using reverse Taylor anvil-on-rod impact tests combined with velocity interferometry gave qualitative and quantitative information about the transient deformation and failure response of the composites. The material containing 20wt% epoxy and nano-sized Al powder showed the most superior mechanical properties in terms of elastic modulus and static and dynamic compressive strength. The addition of Ni and Al powders to the epoxy matrix increased the strength of the composites, and their tendency toward brittle fracture, as evidenced by Ni particle pullout in SEM analysis. The results illustrate that nano-sized Al particles provide significant enhancement to strength of epoxy composites, but at the expense of reactivity. The nano-Al particles get dissociated from the Ni and Al mixture and swept into the epoxy, generating a nano-Al containing epoxy matrix with embedded Ni particles. The chemical reactivity of the system is thus sacrificed as contacts between Ni and Al powders are minimized. A mixture of nano-sized Ni and Al particles may however provide the best combination of high strength and reactivity.