Effects of nano-scale additives on the linear burning rate of nitromethane Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper examines the effects of various nanoparticle additives on the combustion behavior of nitromethane, using a pressure-based method recently demonstrated by the authors to measure the linear burning rates of liquid monopropellants and heterogeneous mixtures with high precision. The linear burning rates of these mixtures were measured in a constant-volume system at chamber pressures ranging from 3 to 14. MPa, all without direct observation of the burning front. Nano-scale aluminum was used to increase the overall energy density of the mixture, fumed silica powder was used to increase the mixture thickness and encourage aluminum suspension, and nano-scale titania was also included based on its previous use as a burning rate modifier in solid propellants. The silica loading was varied from 1% to 3% by weight, aluminum was varied from 5% to 13.5% by weight, and titania was added at 1% by weight. The use of fumed silica yielded increased burning rates compared to those of neat nitromethane, and the pressure exponent of the burning rate curve shifted from lower to higher than the nitromethane baseline as more silica was added. This increased pressure sensitivity for mixtures containing 3% silica by weight was previously unobserved in similar studies by other groups and may be an effect of the higher specific surface area of the currently used silica. The subsequent addition of aluminum led to even faster burning rates and higher pressure exponents for all but one mixture. The addition of titania also led to elevated burning rates, with dramatically increased pressure sensitivity and rate inconsistency for chamber pressures above approximately 8. MPa but a decreased pressure sensitivity for the same mixture below 8. MPa. These changes in combustion behavior that accompanied titania were diminished by the presence of aluminum and completely negated in mixtures also containing fumed silica. 2013 The Combustion Institute.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • McCown, K., & Petersen, E. L.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • McCown, Kenneth WIII||Petersen, Eric L

publication date

  • July 2014