Terminal velocity of liquids and granular materials dispersed by a high explosive


The explosive dispersal of a layer of solid particles or a layer of liquid surrounding a spherical high-explosive charge generates a turbulent, multiphase flow. Shock compression of the material layer during the initial acceleration may partially consolidate the material, leading to the formation of jet-like structures when the layer fragments and sheds particles upon release. Similarly, release of a shock-compressed liquid shell causes the nucleation of cavitation sites, leading to the radial breakup of the shell and the formation of jets upon expansion. In the current study, a wide variety of granular materials and liquids were explosively dispersed. The maximum terminal jet tip or shell velocity was measured using high-speed videography. Charges were constructed using thin-walled glass bulbs of various diameters and contained a central C-4 charge surrounded by the material to be dispersed. This permitted variation of the ratio of material mass to charge mass (M/C) from 4 to 300. Results indicated that material velocity broadly correlates with predictions of the Gurney model. For liquids, the terminal velocity was accurately predicted by the Gurney model. For granular materials, Gurney over-predicted the terminal velocity by 25–60%, depending on the M/C ratio, with larger M/C values exhibiting larger deficits. These deficits are explained by energy dissipation during the collapse of voids in the granular material bed. Velocity deficits were insensitive to the degree of jetting and granular material properties. Empirical corrections to the Gurney model are presented with improved agreement with the dry powder experimental velocities.

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The authors thank Rick Guilbeault and Lorne McCauley at the Canadian Explosive Research Laboratory for assistance with the experiments and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency for funding under the basic research Grant HDTRA1-11-1-0014.

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Loiseau, J., Pontalier, Q., Milne, A.M. et al. Terminal velocity of liquids and granular materials dispersed by a high explosive. Shock Waves 28, 473–487 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00193-018-0822-4

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  • Gurney model
  • Granular materials
  • Explosive dispersal