SBIR-STTR Award

High Density Impulse Propellants
Profile last edited on: 6/3/08

Program
SBIR
Agency
MDA
Total Award Amount
$720,639
Award Phase
2
Principal Investigator
John Leonard
Activity Indicator

Company Information

Mach I Inc

340 East Church Road
King Of Prussia, PA 19406
   (610) 279-2340
   machi@machichemicals.com
   www.machichemicals.com
Multiple Locations:   
Congressional District:   04
County:   Montgomery

Phase I

Phase I year
2001
Phase I Amount
$64,054
Solid propellants with significantly higher density impulse vs conventional aluminum based propellants can be prepared utilizing zirconium metal fuel. This has been independently demonstrated by several investigators including Atlantic Research Corp- oration, a commercial propellant manufacturer. The extreme electrostatic discharge (ESD) sensitivity of zirconium metal has prevented its use in high density impulse propellants. In a previous SBIR from NSWC, MACH I demonstrated and developed surface passivation technologies to dramatically improve the ESD sensitivity of hafnium metal for use in energetics. In preliminary internal R&D, MACH I has shown this technology to be feasible for zirconium metal, dramatically improving its ESD sensitivity from 0.00025 to a safe level of 0.036 joules. Since this technology involves forming a surface intermetal- lic with aluminum, there should not be a significant impact on reactivity or density impulse. We are proposing a program to optimize the ESD sensitivity improvement, reactivity, and impulse of the zirconium propellants. Atlantic Research Inc would be a subcontractor to MACH I testing reactivity and other propellant properties. One pound of the optimum material would be produced in Phase I. In phase II, this would be further developed and propellants commercialized. Zr Energy, a domestic producer of zirconium has committed to supply materials to this program and could quickly com- mercially produce the passivated zirconium should the technology be successfully developed.

Phase II

Phase II year
2003 (last award dollars: 2003)
Phase II Amount
$656,585
Solid propellants with significantly higher density impulse versus conventional aluminum propellants can be prepared utilizing zirconium metal fuel. This has been independently demonstrated by several investigators including Atlantic Research Corporation, a commercial propellant manufacturer. The extreme electrostatic discharge (ESD) sensitivity of zirconium metal has prevented its use in high density impulse propellants. In a Phase I program, MACH I demonstrated the feasibility of a surface passivation technology for zirconium. Zirconium ESD sensitivity was dramatically improved from 0.00025 to safe levels of greater than 0.02 joules. Since this technology involves forming a surface intermetallic with aluminum, there should not be a significant impact on reactivity or density impulse. We are proposing a Phase II program to optimize and commercialize the passivated zirconium production process and high density impulse zirconium propellants. Atlantic Research Corp. would be a subcontractor to MACH I testing reactivity and other propellant properties. Approximately 150 pounds of the passivated zirconium would be produced to supply the propellant development program. Zr Energy, a domestic producer of zirconium has committed to supply materials to this program, assist in passivated zirconium process development and scale up, and establish pilot plant production at their Phoenix AZ plant.

Keywords:
High Density Impulse Propellants, Zirconium, Safe Esd Sensitivity