ALERT Researchers Work with U.S Army on Energetic Materials

ALERT researcher Steve Beaudoin, professor of chemical engineering and director of Purdue University’s Energetic Research Center, and past ALERT researcher Jeffrey Rhoads, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories at Purdue’s College of Engineering, are engaged in a new three-year collaboration with the U.S Army to advance technology concerning explosives, propellants, and pyrotechnics (a.k.a. energetic materials). The project, formally known as Advancing Army Modernization Priorities through Collaborative Energetic Materials Research, focuses on priorities such as increasing effectiveness of weapons and increasing safety and sustainability.

For Purdue News, Rhoads, who is the leader of this major award, reported that there are currently eighteen research projects and groups conducting energetics research as part of this project, focusing on topics such as “gaining a better understanding of how shockwaves interact with the microstructure and defects in energetic materials; improving the performance of materials used in the aggressive service conditions such as gun launch and hypersonic flight; developing inkjet-printed conductive energetic materials; [and] developing new manufacturing techniques to encapsulate metal or composite materials with embedded sensors to develop health-monitoring smart armor.”

Professor Beaudoin currently leads ALERT research Thrust 2, “Trace and Vapor Sensors,” described in Northeastern University’s ALERT annual report as concentrating on understanding “the fundamental problems of trace and vapor detection of explosives and aiming to enable development of sensing and sampling systems capable of detecting ultra-low amounts of explosives which are both selective (i.e., able to reduce the number of false positives and false negatives) and adaptable (i.e., can accommodate new explosives as they become threats).”

Professor Rhoads also previously worked on research within ALERT’s Thrust 2, focusing on research and development of portable, integrated microscale sensors for explosives detection.

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