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Title: A whole life assessment of extruded double base propellants
Author: Tucker, J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 4925
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2013
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The manufacturing process for solventless extruded double base propellants involves a number of rolling and reworking stages. Throughout these processes a decrease in weight average molecular weight was observed, this was attributed to denitration. Differential scanning calorimetery data indicated that the reworking stages of extruded double base propellant manufacture were crucial to the homogenisation of the propellant mixture. To determine the homogeneity of the final extruded product, a sample was analysed across its diameter. No variations in stabiliser concentration, molecular weight, or Vickers hardness were detected. An accelerated thermal ageing trial simulating up to 8 years of ageing at 25°C was carried out to evaluate the storage characteristics. Reductions in stabiliser concentration, number average molecular weight, weight average molecular weight and polydispersity compared with un-aged samples were observed. The glass transition temperature measured using differential scanning calorimetery decreased by ~3°C. The decrease was attributed to the initial denitration reducing the energy of bond rotation and shortening the polymer chains, both factors reducing the energy required for movement. Modulus values determined from dynamic mechanical analysis temperature scanning experiments, did not detect significant variation between un-aged and aged samples. Though it was considered that variations would be likely if a more extensive ageing program was completed. In order to evaluate propellant behaviour at very high and low frequencies, time temperature superposition (TTS) and creep testing were carried out. The TTS technique superpositioned data well, allowing future investigation of high frequency propellant properties. Creep testing was considered to be an appropriate approach, though the equipment available was not optimised for such testing. This thesis is concerned with understanding how propellants are manufactured from nitrocellulose, nitroglycerine and other constituents. It is also about how the propellants decompose during long periods of time in storage, and how these changes can be measured using thermal and mechanical methods. It is about how the physical, chemical and thermal properties of the propellant composition change throughout the manufacture. This is relevant as it could be used to develop more efficient manufacturing processes, allow operators to adjust processes to tailor product properties or be used to re-design manufacturing to compensate for a different starting material. The thesis also considers how and why the properties of the product change over the course of years of storage. A specific focus on whether changes in mechanical and thermal properties occur, and if so how they can be detected.
Supervisor: Gill, P. P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Nitrocellulose ; Double-based rocket propellants ; Propulsion, engines and fuels