Propellants Explosives Pyrotechnics, Vol.45, No.3, 387-395, 2020
Nonlinear Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy for Predicting Sensitivity to Initiation in Granular High Explosives
Nonlinear Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy (NRUS) is a technique that can measure bulk nonlinear coefficients of the nonlinear elastic modulus for a material. NRUS has been used to identify damage in a variety of granular materials including rocks and concrete. Some energetic materials, such as Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate (PETN), are commonly fielded as pressed granular compacts. It is well known that the sensitivity to initiation of these materials is heavily dependent on their microstructure, and that microstructure changes naturally (becomes damaged) over time. In this study, we examine the use of NRUS to identify changes in microstructure between pristine and thermally aged PETN pellets. In particular, we examine the relationship between the bulk hysteretic nonlinearity, alpha, of the pellets and time spent at temperature, powder specific surface area (SSA), and sensitivity to initiation. We find that, in general, alpha does not increase uniformly for all pellets within a single thermal aging condition. However, when the pellets are test fired to determine sensitivity to initiation, there is a strong correlation between alpha and firing voltage threshold. NRUS-measured alpha has the added benefit that the measurements can be made insitu and on benchtop scales.