Functionalized Fullerenes for Energy Efficient Laser Ignition Applications

Technology #16531

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Researchers
Brij M. Moudgil
Vijay Krishna
Ben L. Koopman
Managed By
Lenny Terry
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Allows for Safe and Remote Ignition of Explosives, Fuels, and Propellants

These functionalized fullerenes can be ignited with low-intensity lasers, allowing uniform coating on explosives for homogeneous or multi-point ignition. Many industrial processes require ignition to start chemical conversions, and electric spark and laser are the most popular. Electric spark ignition requires input from high-voltage sources, which can be affected by stray electromagnetic fields or electrostatic discharge or stray electrical energy. Laser based ignition requires high-energy input in the orders of GW/cm2. Researchers at the University of Florida have discovered that functionalized fullerenes can be ignited with low-intensity (kW/cm2) laser. The solvent compatibility of functionalized fullerenes allows uniform coating on explosives for homogeneous or multi-point ignition. Functionalized fullerenes as additives to fuels can lower the energy required for laser spark plugs and facilitate homogenous and complete combustion. Use of functionalized fullerenes that are water-soluble, biocompatible and biodegradable, eliminates toxicity and other environmental concerns.

Applications

A more energy-efficient, safe and remote method for ignition of explosives, fuels and propellants

Advantages

  • Eliminates the need for electrical spark or flame for ignition
  • Required laser intensity is one million times less than for conventional laser ignition
  • Eliminates potential for undesired ignition by electromagnetic interference

Technology

Researchers at the University of Florida have discovered that functionalized fullerenes can be ignited with low-intensity laser irradiation. Functionalized fullerene molecules that have distorted fullerene cage release heat upon irradiation with laser of any wavelength. This discovery allows ignition with low-intensity lasers (million fold lower than conventional explosive initiators), without the need for electrical energy. Furthermore, the laser source can be remote from the explosive. Heating or ignition can occur in gaseous or liquid environments. Solvent compatibility of functionalized fullerenes allows uniform coating of these molecules on explosives, thereby improving uniformity of ignition. Functionalized fullerenes can be used for laser spark plugs providing multi-point ignition for homogenous and complete combustion of fuels.