Keith Rider

Dr. Keith Rider has been accepted for participation in the Research Associateship Program sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences.  As part of the program, he will work on a research project at the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop metallic explosive additives.  Compared to nuclear explosives, conventional explosives have a relatively low energy density and there have been few improvements in conventional explosives since the invention of TNT in the nineteenth century.  Many metals can release large amounts of heat as they oxidize, which makes them an attractive, energy dense additive for conventional explosives, but there are two critical technological problems that must be overcome before metallic additives can be widely used.  First, metal particles usually oxidize spontaneously by reaction with air.  If a significant fraction of each particle is oxidized, then the amount of energy that is released during the explosion is reduced.  Second, metal oxidation reactions are significantly slower than the decomposition reactions that drive conventional explosives.  For metals to react quickly enough to be useful, the particles must be extremely small so that the oxidation reaction can take place simultaneously for most of the material in the particles.  Researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate are developing a method for producing nanometer-sized metal particles that may be able to address both problems.

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