Low-temperature oxidative degradation of PBX 9501 and its components determined via molecular weight analysis of the Poly[ester urethane] binder

  • Salazar M
  • Kress J
  • Lightfoot J
 et al. 
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The results of following the oxidative degradation of a plastic-bonded explosive (PBX 9501) are reported. Into over 1100 sealed containers were placed samples of PBX 9501 and combinations of its components and aged at relatively low temperatures to induce oxidative degradation of the samples. One of the components of the explosive is a poly(ester urethane) polymer and the oxidative degradation of the samples were following by measuring the molecular weight change of the polymer by gel permeation chromatography (coupled with both differential refractive index and multiangle laser light scattering detectors). Multiple temperatures between 40 and 64 °C were used to accelerate the aging of the samples. Interesting induction period behavior, along with both molecular weight increasing (crosslinking) and decreasing (chain scissioning) processes, were found at these relatively mild conditions. The molecular weight growth rates were fit to a random crosslinking model for all the combinations of components. The fit rate coefficients show Arrhenius behavior and activation energies and frequency factors were obtained. The kinetics of molecular weight growth shows a compensatory effect between the Arrhenius prefactors and activation energies, suggesting a common degradation process between PBX 9501 and the various combinations of its constituents. An oxidative chemical mechanism of the polymer is postulated, consistent with previous experimental results, that involves a competition between urethane radical crosslinking and carbonyl formation. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aging
  • Degradation
  • Explosives
  • Molecular weight analysis
  • Oxidation
  • Polyurethanes

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  • Michael R. Salazar

  • Joel D. Kress

  • J. Michael Lightfoot

  • Bobby G. Russell

  • Wayne A. Rodin

  • Lorelei Woods

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