Low cost silicon nanoparticles for energetics applications
Metallic nanoparticles show great potential for use in a variety of energetics applications including combustion, electrolysis, and catalysis. During combustion processes, the high surface area of nanoparticle fuels allows for complete and consistent conversion of the solid material into usable energy. Although their energy density is below that of hydrocarbons, the ability to store metal fuels for extended periods of time with no degradation and without monitoring makes these materials highly desirable. Nanoaluminum has been used successfully in propellants and metastable intermetallic composites (nanothermites). Unfortunately, nanoaluminum must be carefully stored under inert conditions as the material readily develops an oxide layer upon exposure to air, which can significantly diminish the energetic performance. Silicon nanopowder (nanosilicon) has a comparable heat of combustion and can be prepared with a capping agent to prevent oxidation, suggesting superior aging characteristics to nanoaluminum. SMRC has recently shown successful production of nanosilicon from low cost starting materials.
Nanosilicon is a shelf-stable, dry powder product. SMRC is currently scaling up the production of nanosilicon from batch process to a continuous flow reactor.
Testing has shown nanosilicon can be used as a fuel additive to enhance combustion characteristics.
Energetics applications, such as weapons systems, can benefit from the enhanced energy density of nanosilicon powders.
SMRC Point of Contact:
David J. Irvin, PhD
Director of Research
(512) 535-7791 x109