Description: High explosive (HE) materials are unique for having a strong exothermic reactivity, which has made them desirable for both military and commercial applications. Although the history of HE materials is long, condensed-phase properties are poorly understood. Understanding the condensed-phase properties of HE materials is important for determining stability and performance. Information regarding HE material properties (for example, the physical, chemical, and mechanical behaviors of the constituents in plastic-bonded explosive, or PBX, formulations) is necessary in efficiently building the next generation of explosives as the quest for more powerful energetic materials (in terms of energy per volume) moves forward. In addition, understanding the reaction mechanisms has important ramifications in disposing of such materials safely and cheaply, as there exist vast stockpiles of HE materials with corresponding contamination of earth and groundwater at these sites, as well as a military testing sites The ability to model chemical reaction processes in condensed phase energetic materials is rapidly progressing. Chemical equilibrium modeling is a mature technique with some limitations. Progress in this area continues, but is hampered by a lack of knowledge of condensed phase reaction mechanisms and rates. Atomistic modeling is much more computationally intensive, and is currently limited to very short time scales. Nonetheless, this methodology promises to yield the first reliable insights into the condensed phase processes responsible for high explosive detonation. Further work is necessary to extend the timescales involved in atomistic simulations. Recent work in implementing thermostat methods appropriate to shocks may promise to overcome some of these difficulties. Most current work on energetic material reactivity assumes that electronically adiabatic processes dominate. The role of excited states is becoming clearer, however. These states are not accessible in perfect crystals under realistic pressures and temperatures, but may still be accessed through defects or other energy localization mechanisms.
Date: December 3, 2003
Creator: Fried, L. E.; Manaa, M. R. & Lewis, J. P.