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International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion

ISSN Print: 2150-766X
ISSN Online: 2150-7678

International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion

DOI: 10.1615/IntJEnergeticMaterialsChemProp.v6.i1.50
pages 59-74


Katrina Brandstadt
Energy & Environmental Research Laboratory, McGill University, , Montreal, Quebec H3A 2K6, Canada
David L. Frost
Department of Mechanical Engineering, McGill University, Rm 352, Macdonald Engineering Building, 817 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal, Quebec H3A 2K6, Canada
Janusz A. Kozinski
Department of Chemical Engineering, 3b48 Engineering Building, University of Saskatchewan, 57 Campus Drive, Saskatoon SKS7N5A9 Canada


The thermal oxidation of fine aluminum (Al) powders in carbon dioxide (CO2) gas was investigated for the purpose of metal-based propulsion fuel development. The thermal behavior and reaction energy was studied using simultaneous thermogravimetric (TG) analysis and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The reactivities of Al powders with nanometer and micrometer-scale average particle sizes were compared. The particle morphology was examined at different stages of the process using field emission gun scanning electron microscopy (FEG-SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The corresponding chemical changes were analyzed by X-ray diffraction spectrometry (XRD) and energy dispersion X-ray spectrometry (EDS). It is found that nano- and micrometer-scale Al powders exhibited different calorimetric behavior; primarily oxidation occurred at a much lower temperature for nanopowders compared to micropowders. The mechanism of the oxide transformation and growth, particle deformations, and hollow oxide shells are discussed, along with the involvement of carbon in the reaction.