Document Type


Date of Award

Fall 1-27-2008

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering - (M.S.)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Edward L. Dreyzin

Second Advisor

Boris Khusid

Third Advisor

Kwabena A. Narh

Fourth Advisor

Mirko Schoenitz


The thermite reaction between Al and CuO is well known and highly exothermic. For a conventional thermite mixture comprising mixed metal and oxide powders, this reaction is rate limited by the slow heterogeneous mass transfer at the metal and oxide interface. The relatively low reaction rate and a difficult ignition have restricted practical applications for this reaction. For newly developed, nano-composed thermites, the interface area can be substantially increased resulting in a much higher reaction rate and a new range of possible applications. Nanocomposite Al-CuO materials are produced using a technique referred to as arrested reactive milling. Regular metal and oxide powders are blended and ball milled at room temperature resulting in a fully dense and reactive nanocomposite powder. The produced Al-CuO nanocomposite powders have been considered for applications in propellants, explosives, pyrotechnics, as well as for joining small parts. In accordance to the application requirements, the powder composition and morphology can be modified to optimize performance. Aluminum-rich compositions are of particular interest for novel energetic components. Synthesis methodology, material properties as a function of composition and morphology, and performance tests will be discussed in this paper.