Manufacturing and characterization of energetic materials

Carlos Alberto Catzin, University of Texas at El Paso


Few products take several years of research effort to be synthesize yet disintegrate in scarcely millionths of a second when used. Despite their short lifespan energetic materials, particularly high explosives, are in demand as never before by the Aerospace, Defense, Energy, Gas, Mining, and Oil Industry for their unique properties. One class of high explosives known as polymer bonded explosives (PBXs) are popularly used in a wide variety of applications ranging from solid rocket propellants to the main explosive charge in conventional ammunitions. A key characteristic behind the popularity of PBXs in comparison to other high explosives is their handling safety. This characteristic of the PBXs has its root in its composition. Polymer bonded explosives are comprised of two different constituent materials: micron size energetic crystals and polymer binder material. The polymer binder material cohere the energetic crystal together into a single mass. In addition, the polymer binder material prevents friction between the energetic crystals and allows deformation. This characteristic of PBXs makes them safer to handle than any other class of high explosive. Is important to keep in mind that the particular behavior of the constituent materials will dictate the mechanical properties of the PBX. Polymer bonded explosives have a high demand for research development among industry due to the unexplained phenomena that occurs on the mechanical response regime. Interest in the mechanical response of PBXs continues to rise as applications for these continue to evolve. Characterizing the mechanical properties of a PBX is not an easy task in terms of security. This is due to user and equipment safety. Despite the fact the PBXs are safer to handle than any other high explosive, it is not advised to conduct mechanical testing on a real PBX. In order to characterize the mechanical properties of a PBX safely is imperative to adapt a “mock” PBX. A mock PBX has the ability to reproduce the mechanical behavior of a PBX closely without the risk of detonation. In this thesis, a new manufacturing method for a mock PBX named Miner mock will be covered. Quasi-static uniaxial compression, indirect tensile test, and semi-circular bending were carried out to extract the compressive, tensile, and fracture properties of the Miner mock. This mechanical properties will be compared to a real PBX formulation in order to provide validation to the new manufacturing method and the Miner mock formulation

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering

Recommended Citation

Catzin, Carlos Alberto, "Manufacturing and characterization of energetic materials" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10118239.