Investigations on Azide Functional Polymers as Binders for Solid Propellants
This thesis contains investigations in the area of polymers herein propellants binders are modified functionally to meet the requirements of future energetic propellants. Chapter 1 contains a broad introduction to the area of recent advances in solid propellants and the numerous applications of ‘Click Chemistry’. Chapters 2 details the materials, characterization tools and the experimental techniques employed for the studies. This is followed by Chapter 3, 4, and 5 which deals with functional modification of various propellants binders, their characterisation and evaluation in propellant formulations. Chapter 6 details with the thermal decomposition of diazides and its reaction with alkenes. The advent of modern rockets has opened a new era in the history of space exploration as well as defence applications. The driving force of the rocket emanates from the propellant – either solid or liquid. Composite solid propellants find an indispensable place, in today’s rockets and launch vehicles because of the inherent advantages such as high reliability, easy manufacturing, high thrust etc. The composite propellant consisting of inorganic oxidiser like ammonium perchlorate, (AP), ammonium nitrate (AN) etc), metallic fuel (aluminium powder, boron etc) and polymeric fuel binder (hydroxyl terminated polybutadiene-HTPB, polybutadiene-acrylic acid-acrylonitrile PBAN, glycidyl azide polymer (GAP), polyteramethylene oxide (PTMO) etc. is used in igniters, boosters, upper stage motors and special purpose motors in large launch vehicles. Large composite solid propellant grains or rocket motors in particular, demand adequate mechanical properties to enable them to withstand the stresses imposed during operation, handling, transportation and motor firing. They should also have a reasonably long ‘potlife’ to provide sufficient window for processing operations such as mixing and casting which makes the selection of binder with appropriate cure chemistry more challenging. In all composite solid propellants currently in use, polymers perform the role of a binder for the oxidiser, metallic fuel and other additives. It performs the dual role of imparting dimensional stability to the composite, provides structural integrity and good mechanical properties to the propellant besides acting as a fuel to impart the required energetics. Conventionally, the terminal hydroxyl groups in the binders like GAP, PTMO and HTPB are reacted with diisocyanates to form a polyurethane network, to impart the necessary mechanical properties to the propellant. A wide range of diisocyantes such as tolylene diisocyanate (TDI) and isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI) are used for curing of these binders. However, the incompatability of isocyanates with energetic oxidisers like ammonium dinitramide (ADN), hydrazinium nitroformate (HNF), short ‘potlife’ of the propellant slurry and undesirable side reactions with moisture are limiting factors which adversely affect the mechanical properties of curing binders through this route. The objective of the present study is to evolve an alternate approach of curing these binders is to make use of the 1,3 dipolar addition reactions between azide and alkyne groups which is a part of ‘Click chemistry’. This can be accomplished by the reaction of azide groups of GAP with triple bonds of alkynes and reactions of functionally modified HTPB/PTMO (azide/alkyne) to yield 1,2,3 -triazole based products. This offers an alternate route for processing of solid propellants wherein, the cured resins that have improved mechanical properties, better thermal stability and improved ballistic properties in view of the higher heat of decomposition resulting from the decomposition of the triazole groups. GAP is an azide containing energetic polymer. The azide groups can undergo reaction with alkynes to yield triazoles. In, Chapter 3 the synthesis and characterisation of various alkynyl compounds including bis propargyl succinate (BPS), bis propargyl adipate (BPA), bis propargyl sebacate (BPSc.) and bis propargyl oxy bisphenol A (BPB) for curing of GAP to yield triazoles networks are studied. The mechanism of the curing reaction of GAP with these alkynyl compounds was elucidated using a model compound viz. 2-azidoethoxyethane (AEE). The reaction mechanism has been analysed using Density Functional Theory (DFT) method. DFT based theoretical calculations implied marginal preference for 1, 5 addition over the 1, 4 addition for the uncatalysed cycloaddition reaction between azide and alkyne group. The detailed characterisation of these systems with respect to the cure kinetics, mechanical properties, dynamic mechanical behaviour and thermal decomposition characteristics were done and correlated to the structure of the network. The glass transition temperature (Tg), tensile strength and modulus of the system increased with crosslink density which in turn is, controlled by the azide to alkyne molar stoichiometry. Thermogravimetic analysis (TGA) showed better thermal stability for the GAP-triazole compared to GAP based urethanes. Though there have been a few reports on curing of GAP with alkynes, it is for the first time that a detailed characterisation of this system with respect to the cure kinetics, mechanical, dynamic mechanical, thermal decomposition mechanism of the polymer is being reported. To extent the concept of curing binders through 1,3 dipolar addition reaction, the binder HTPB as chemically transformed to propargyloxy carbonyl amine terminated polybutadiene (PrTPB) with azidoethoxy carbonyl amine terminated polybutadiene (AzTPB) and propargyloxy polybutadiene (PTPB). Similarly, PTMO was convnerted to propargyloxy polytetramethylene oxide (PTMP). Triazole-triazoline networks were derived by the reaction of the binders with alkyne/azide containing curing agents. The cure characteristics of these polymers (PrTPB with AzTPB, PTPB with GAP and PTMP with GAP) were studied by DSC. The detailed characterisations of the cured polymers for were done with respect to the, mechanical, dynamic mechanical behaviour and thermal decomposition characteristics were done. Propellant level studies were done using the triazoles derived from GAP, PrTPB-AzTPB, PTPB and PTMP as binder, in combination with ammonium perchlorate as oxidiser. The propellants were characterised with respect to rheological, mechanical, safety, as well as ballistic properties. From the studies, propellant formulations with improved energetics, safety characteristics, processability and mechanical properties as well defect free propellants could be developed using novel triazole crosslinked based binders. Chapter 6, is aimed at understanding the mechanism of thermal decomposition of diazido compounds in the first section. For this, synthesis and characterisation of a diazido ester 1,6 –bis (azidoacetoyloxy) hexane (HDBAA) was done. There have been no reports on the thermal decomposition mechanism of diazido compounds, where one azide group may influence the decomposition of the other. The thermal decomposition mechanism of the diazido ester were theoretically predicted by DFT method and corroborated by pyrolysis-GC-MS studies. In the second section of this chapter, the cure reaction of the diazido ester with the double bonds of HTPB has been investigated. The chapter 6B reports the mechanism of Cu (I) catalysed azide-alkene reaction validated using density functional theory (DFT) calculations in isomers of hexene (cis-3-hexene, trans-3-hexene and 2-methy pentene: model compound of HTPB) using HDBAA. This the first report on an isocyanate free curing of HTPB using an azide. Chapter 7 of the thesis summarizes the work carried out, the highlights and important findings of this work. The scope for future work such as development of high performance eco-friendly propellants based on triazoles in conjunction with chlorine-free oxidizer like ADN, synthesis of compatible plasticisers and suitable crosslinkers have been described. This work has given rise to one patent, three international publications and four papers in international conferences in the domain.
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