Inhibition of Hotspot Formation in Polymer Bonded Explosives Using an Interface Matching Low Density Polymer Coating at the Polymer-Explosive Interface

Q An and WA Goddard and SV Zybin and SN Luo, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 118, 19918-19928 (2014).

DOI: 10.1021/jp506501r

In order to elucidate how shocks in heterogeneous materials affect decomposition and reactive processes, we used the ReaxFF reactive force field in reactive molecules dynamics (RMD) simulations of the effects of strong shocks (2.5 and 3.5 km/s) on a prototype polymer bonded explosive (PBX) consisting of cyclotrimethylene trinitramine (RDX) bonded to hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB). We showed earlier that shock propagation from the high density RDX to the low density polymer (RDX --> Poly) across a nonplanar periodic interface (sawtooth) leads to a hotspot at the initial asperity but no additional hotspot at the second asperity. This hotspot arises from shear along the interface induced by relaxation of the stress at the asperity. We now report the case for shock propagation from the low density polymer to the high density RDX (Poly --> RDX) where we find a hotspot at the initial asperity and a second more dramatic hotspot at the second asperity. This second hotspot is enhanced due to shock wave convergence from shock wave interaction with nonplanar interfaces. We consider that this second hotspot is likely the source of the detonation in realistic PBX systems. We showed how these hotspots depend on the density mismatch between the RDX and polymer and found that decreasing the density by a factor of 2 dramatically reduces the hotspot. These results suggest that to make PBX less sensitive for propellants and explosives, the binder should be designed to provide low density at the asperity in contact with the RDX. Based on these simulations, we propose a new design for an insensitive PBX in which a low density polymer coating is deposited between the RDX and the usual polymer binder. To test this idea, we simulated shock wave propagation from two opposite directions (RDX --> Poly and Poly --> RDX) through the interface matched PBX (IM-PBX) material containing a 3 nm coating of low density (0.48 g/cm(3)) polymer. These simulations showed that this IM-PBX design dramatically suppresses hotspot formation.

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