Modelling the increase in anisotropic reaction rates in metal nanoparticle oxidation using carbon nanotubes as thermal conduits

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Year: 2008
Type of Publication: Article
  • Joel T. Abrahamson, Michael S. Strano Nitish Nair
Journal: Nanotechnology Volume: 19
Number: 19 Pages: 195701
Month: MAY 14 2008
PT: J; TC: 10; UT: WOS:000255097900012
Nanostructured energetic materials are attracting attention for their faster reaction rates compared to materials with micron-scale particles. We numerically solve the coupled energy balances for a carbon nanotube with an annular coating of reactive metal, such that coupling to thermal transport in the nanotube accelerates reaction in the annulus. For the case of Zr metal, the nanotube increases the velocity of the reaction front in the direction of the nanotube length from 530 to 5100 mm s(-1). This offers a proof-of-concept for one-dimensional anisotropic energetic materials, which could find new applications in inorganic synthesis and novel propellants. Nanotube conductivity as well as the relative sizes of the Zr annulus and the nanotube limit enhancement of the reaction velocity to a maximum of a factor of similar to 10. Interestingly, the interfacial heat conductance is not the most significant factor affecting the coupling, due to the large temperature differences (more than 1000 K) between the nanotube and the annulus at the reaction front and directional heat conduction in the nanotube. Although the enhancement is insufficient to change a Zr/nanotube composite from a deflagrating to a detonating material, using faster-reacting materials may enable nanotubes to effect this transition.