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QinetiQ Nanomaterials' breakthrough in hybrid aluminium powders

New pyrotechnic and explosive applications possible with Tesimorph ® EAB-80


12-09-2005 -- Tesimorph ® EAB-80, a new experimental aluminium / boron material with a particle size of 80 nm , has just been developed under a research contract from the UK MOD by QinetiQ Nanomaterials Limited (QNL).  It offers significant potential for applications like pyrotechnics for air bags, rocket motors (both hybrid motors and solid propellant) and other propellants where enhanced energy and faster burn rates are required.

“This is the first time an aluminium boron hybrid particle has been produced at the nano scale and it's many times smaller than anything currently available,” explained Dr Paul Reip, Managing Director of QNL.  “Conventional process methods for aluminium powders tend to produce relatively large, micron size particles.  Our experimental work on alloyed and structured metal nanoparticles using our Tesima ® process not only produces commercial quantities of nano size aluminium particles, opening up a wide range of potential applications, it can also result in hybrid materials and alloys that cannot otherwise be produced.”

QNL develops bespoke metal, oxide, carbide and nitride nanopowders in the 20nm to 100nm particle size range for specific customer applications using its patented Tesima ® process. The process is continuous, allowing extended operation and is scaleable so that quantities from kilogrammes to tonnes are possible. By incorporating materials at the nano scale, different physical properties can be added to existing materials, either improving their functionality or giving them unique properties.  Powders are manufactured dry but can also be incorporated into other media, such as liquids or polymers. 

The Tesima ® process has great flexibility and a far greater range of capability than the manufacture of basic metal and oxide nanopowders.  This latest development is part of QinetiQ's ongoing work on complex and modified nanomaterials under the Tesimorph ® brand.  Although still in the early stages it is already creating a diverse range of complex and structured materials, including alloys that for the first time can be made at the nano scale.  Tesimorph ® ES-25 Stainless Steel which was first manufactured earlier this year was QinetiQ's first move into this area and others in the family should include shape memory alloys.

By up rating its Tesima ® production system QinetiQ is now able to produce continuously reactive metal powders in safety.  It can also now develop a range of materials to improve the performance of devices such as airbags and seat belt tensioners as well as devices for the oil and gas industry, aerospace and defence.

Dr Paul Reip concluded “We have now reached a point where we are actively seeking industrial partners to further develop this family of metallic Tesimorph ® nanomaterials and bring them to market. The key issue is always the need to scale-up the manufacture. The Tesima ® process can be scaled to produce consistent and reproducible product and is an excellent match for large scale industrial development. ''

Recently developed nanomaterials include silver – a material with numerous applications, particularly valued for its anti-microbial properties; aluminium for energetics and explosive applications; cuprous oxide for anti-fungal applications; tungsten carbide for cermets; zinc oxide for UV protection; and cerium oxide for catalysts. 

QNL is a wholly owned subsidiary of QinetiQ Group, Europe 's largest research and technology organisation.


· Tesimorph ® EAB-80 is part of QNL's special Tesimorph ® product range of materials that also includes mixed oxides, layered materials, doped materials such as yttria stabilised zirconia and non stoichiometric materials. Other products under QinetiQ's Tesima ® brand comprise: Tesimox ® , a family of oxides with sizes ranging from 20 to 100nm and includes ZnO, ZrO 2 , CuO, Cu 2 O, SnO 2 , TiO 2 , CeO 2 , Al 2 O 3 ; Tesimet ® which comprises pure metals and alloys such as Al, Cu, Ag, Co, Ni and Ti to which passivation layers can also be applied during manufacture; and Tesimide ® which consists of metal carbides and nitrides including the recent successful manufacture of 60nm WC.

· QinetiQ (pronounced ki' ne tik as in ‘kinetic energy') is a leading global defence technology and security company.  Founded in July 2001 from the majority of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), the laboratories of the UK MOD, QinetiQ today has grown internationally, with around 11,500 employees in the UK and US, many of them internationally acclaimed experts, providing government and commercial customers sophisticated resources to create, evaluate, test, and deliver technology-based services, solutions and products. 

· As part of its growing security business, recently launched products include: Tarsier – a radar system to identify debris on an airport runway; BorderWatch – to see into vehicles to identify possible stowaways; The MillimetreWave Portal – a people screening system to identify concealed weapons; Ferroguard – a man-portable metal detection system; and X-net – a system to stop vehicles being driven through checkpoints.


For further information, please contact

Douglas Millard in the QinetiQ Press Office on  Tel: +44 (0) 1252 394611 / 3500  

Email: DMillard@QinetiQ.com / PressOffice@QinetiQ.com

A1 Building, Cody Technology Park , Ively Road , Farnborough, HANTS GU14 0LX


Visit the new website at www.QinetiQ.com


This story has been adapted from a news release -
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