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International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion
ESCI SJR: 0.142 SNIP: 0.16 CiteScore™: 0.29

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

International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion

DOI: 10.1615/IntJEnergeticMaterialsChemProp.v5.i1-6.470
pages 438-452


M. M. Mench
Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, U.S.A.
J. P. Haas
Honeywell, NASA White Sands Test Facility, Las Craces, NM 88004, USA


The promoted ignition, flame spreading, and combustion phenomena of aluminum alloy 3003 tubing in high-pressure gaseous oxygen (GOX) were studied. The motivation for this study is to obtain burn rate data for aluminum 3003 in a high-pressure GOX environment and to compare the results with the burning behavior of aluminum in liquid oxygen (LOX) at lower pressure. The violent burning of aluminum in a LOX environment has been termed a violent energy release, or VER reaction. This reaction has been observed to result in extremely rapid combustion of aluminum at rates many times greater than that of aluminum in a GOX environment at similar pressures. The upward burning rate data for aluminum tubing in high-pressure quiescent oxygen indicate that no VER reaction exists in this environment, despite the high ambient GOX density. The burning rates of aluminum tubes with two different wall thicknesses are correlated using a power-law relationship for pressures ranging from 2.76 to 55.16 MPa, yielding a pressure exponent of around 0.6 for both cases. High-speed video of the burning event was also recorded, showing the periodic dripping of molten satellite particles. The molten droplet growth and drop-off cycle becomes more rapid with increasing pressure. An equation describing the growth of molten material accumulation is derived to explain this behavior.