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Melted metal dispersal warhead

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Molten droplets of a metal fuel, such as aluminum, are dispersed into air or water for a reaction releasing energy for military or other purposes. In one warhead embodiment, a cylinder of solid metal is disposed within a ceramic heat insulator; heaters of thermite-like material are embedded in the metal; and an explosive dispersing charge is disposed around or at one end of the cylinder. On activation, the heaters are ignited to melt the metal, and the charge then detonated to disperse droplets of the molten metal. In a related embodiment, the metal and heaters are within a containment having an atomizing nozzle at one end and, oppositely of the metal from the nozzle, a piston and gas generator. When the metal is melted, the gas generator is activated to expel molten metal droplets from the nozzle. The fuel may be pressed particles heated below the melting point and then dispersed by a charge providing enough heat to melt the particles; may be a single component, fuel-rich thermite compound; and may include droplet surface tension reducing additives. Advantages are that the weight and volume of a warhead do not include explosives, binders, and underwater-use oxidizers employed with fuel particles in conventional energetic materials. A warhead may thus have greater density for effective penetration; and, since the fuel is not incorporated in an explosive, dispersing charges can be removed until use, and metal fuels hazardous when incorporated in an explosive can be used.

Sutherland, Gerrit T.; Miller, Phillip J.; Sandusky, Harold W.
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Machines and Processing
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Grant time: 
1,565 days
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