Using magnesium to maximize heat generated by reactive Al/Zr nanolaminates

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Abstract

In this study, we explore the effect of magnesium content on the ability of reactive nanocomposite foils to generate heat, by comparing three chemistries: Al:Zr, Al-8Mg:Zr, and Al-38Mg:Zr. These correspond to foils with alternating aluminum and zirconium layers where the Al is either pure, an 8. at.%Mg alloy, or a 38. at.%Mg alloy, respectively. Measurements performed in a specially designed bomb calorimeter show that Al-8Mg:Zr foils perform the best, generating the greatest gravimetric heat in air, oxygen, and nitrogen environments. Both Mg-containing foils release a visible plume of particles and vapor upon reacting, which was recorded with a high speed camera. This ejected mass includes Mg vapor and particles of all three metals. Both the vapor and particles oxidize rapidly in air, resulting in single metal-oxide particles. The reacted foils, particularly the Al-8Mg:Zr samples, contain voids and higher levels of oxygen and nitrogen throughout their thicknesses than reacted Al:Zr foils. To explain the higher heats of reaction for the Al-8Mg:Zr foils, we suggest that the out-diffusion and evaporation of Mg generates a high concentration of vacancies that enhance oxygen and nitrogen diffusion throughout the foil, thereby increasing the degree of oxidation and nitridation.

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Overdeep, K. R., Livi, K. J. T., Allen, D. J., Glumac, N. G., & Weihs, T. P. (2015). Using magnesium to maximize heat generated by reactive Al/Zr nanolaminates. Combustion and Flame, 162(7), 2855–2864. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.combustflame.2015.03.023

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