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International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion
ESCI SJR: 0.149 SNIP: 0.16 CiteScore™: 0.29

ISSN Print: 2150-766X
ISSN Online: 2150-7678

International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion

DOI: 10.1615/IntJEnergeticMaterialsChemProp.v4.i1-6.200
pages 167-176

BOILER FUEL AS A RECYCLING OPTION FOR ENERGETIC MATERIALS

Larry L. Baxter
Brigham Young University, Department of Chemical Engineering, Provo, UT 84602 USA
Sid Huey
Combustion Research Facility, Sandia National Laboratories Livermore, CA 94550
Joel Lipkin
Combustion Research Facility, Sandia National Laboratories Livermore, CA 94550
Devang Shah
Combustion Research Facility, Sandia National Laboratories Livermore, CA 94550
James Ross
Combustion Research Facility, Sandia National Laboratories Livermore, CA 94550
Gian Sclippa
Combustion Research Facility, Sandia National Laboratories Livermore, CA 94550

ABSTRACT

This investigation addresses the combustion-related aspects of the reapplication of energetic materials as fuels in boilers as an economically viable and environmentally acceptable use of excess energetic materials. The economics of this approach indicate that the revenues from power generation and chemical recovery approximately equal the costs of boiler modification and changes in operation. The primary tradeoff is the cost of desensitizing the fuels against the cost of open burn/open detonation (OB/OD) or other disposal techniques. Two principal combustion-related obstacles to the use of energetic-material-derived fuels are NOx generation and the behavior of metals. NOx measurements in a small pilot-scale combustor were obtained as a function of fuel composition and operating conditions using calibrated, research-quality NDIR analysis of sampled gases. These data indicate that the nitrated components (nitrocellulose, nitroglycerin, etc.) of energetic materials decompose with NOx as the primary product. NOx levels are sensitive to local stoichiometry and temperature and subject to the same controls as are common for traditional fuels. Class 1.3 materials also produce higher NOx compared to traditional fuels, primarily due to the temperature of the burning aluminum particles. The behavior of inorganic components in energetic materials tested in this investigation could lead to boiler maintenance problems such as deposition, grate failure, and bed agglomeration. The root cause of the problem is the potentially extreme temperature generated during metal combustion. While these behaviors represent important considerations for the reapplication of energetic materials as fuels, none is insurmountable. The reuse of energetic materials as fuels is viewed as a realistic and economical alternative to OB/OD and most other technologies.


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