Thermal Signature Measurements for Ammonium Nitrate/Fuel Mixtures by Laser Heating
Measurements were carried out to obtain thermal signatures of several ammonium nitrate/fuel (ANF) mixtures, using a laser-heating technique referred to as the laser-driven thermal reactor (LDTR). The mixtures were ammonium nitrate (AN)/kerosene, AN/ethylene glycol, AN/paraffin wax, AN/petroleum jelly, AN/confectioner's sugar, AN/cellulose (tissue paper), nitromethane/cellulose, nitrobenzene/cellulose, AN/cellulose/nitromethane, AN/cellulose/ nitrobenzene. These mixtures were also compared with AN/nitromethane and AN/diesel fuel oil, obtained from an earlier investigation. Thermograms for the mixtures, as well as individual constituents, were compared to better understand how the sample thermal signatures change with mixture composition. This is the first step in development of a thermal-signature database, to be used along with other signature databases, to improve identification of energetic substances of unknown composition. The results indicated that each individual thermal signature was associated unambiguously with a particular mixture composition. The signature features of a particular mixture were shaped by the individual constituent signatures. It was also uncovered that the baseline signature was modified after an experiment due to coating of unreacted residue on the substrate surface and a change in the reactor sphere oxide layer. Thus, care was required to pre-oxidize the sphere prior to an experiment. A minimum sample mass (which was dependent on composition) was required to detect the signature characteristics. Increased laser power served to magnify signal strength while preserving the signature features. For the mixtures examined, the thermal response of each ANF mixture was found to be different, which was based on the mixture composition and the thermal behavior of each mixture constituent.