There has been increasing focus in the area of in-situ structural health monitoring since the advent of embedded nano-composites. This experimental research investigates the structural health monitoring abilities of polymer bonded energetics embedded with a uniformly dispersed but randomly oriented carbon nanotube (CNT) sensing network within the polymer binder. A common formulation of the recent solid propellants consists of ammonium perchlorate (oxidizer) and aluminum powder (combustive fuel)-often shaped using a polymer binder, rather than the older techniques of power pressing. Since this study focuses on the structural health of the material and not its thermal properties, monoclinic sugar crystals were used as a substitute for ammonium perchlorate as it has very similar mechanical properties and is much safer in terms of material handling. Thus, a combination of sugar crystals and aluminum powder bound by a Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) binder is fabricated in varying concentrations to simulate actual solid rocket propellants. The main focus of this study lies in characterizing the mechanical and electrical properties of the CNT embedded energetic material through subjecting it under mechanical loads; followed by a detailed observation and study of the real time electro-mechanical response under tension and compression. The addition of carbon nanotubes to the polymer binder, thus translates to a real time sensing technique for detection of multi-scale damage in polymer bonded energetics. The results of this study aim to establish a proof of concept for CNT embedded structural health monitoring systems.

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