Combustion Synthesis of Inorganic Materials


Alexander S. Rogachev

Evgeny A. Levashov

Course Summary

The aim of this course is to give students comprehensive knowledge of novel scientific-technological area of the materials science: combustion synthesis (CS) of materials, also known as self-propagating high-temperature synthesis (SHS). After discovery in the 1967, the SHS has grown up to world-wide method for production powders, ceramics, cermets, intermetallics and other materials, including nanopowders and nanocrystalline materials. All classes of the CS process are considered, from classical gasless, gas-solid and thermite-type systems to recently developed reactive multilayer nanofilms, solution combustion systems and nanothermites. Mechanisms of the combustion synthesis and product structure formation under extreme conditions of combustion wave or thermal explosion are discussed from the viewpoint of controlling structure and properties of the synthesised products. For this reason, thermodynamics and kinetics of the CS is also the topics of the course. Advanced original methods for experimental diagnostics of the process, such as time-resolved diffraction of synchrotron radiation, high speed micro-video and thermal vision recording, are presented. Finally, the current and future application of the CS process and product will be discussed.

Course Format

Hours of lectureHours of discussionHours in laboratoryHours of independent studyTotal numbers of hours

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of thermodynamic and kinetic principles of the process of combustion synthesis of inorganic materials;
  • Demonstrate a skill to estimate possibility of the combustion synthesis of any compound or material, to calculate adiabatic temperature and product composition by means of standard computer program “Thermo” with thermodynamic functions data base;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of all main classes of the SHS-products and their features;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of advanced experimental methods for studying fast processes, such as combustion and thermal explosion reactions and structure transformations;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the main technological methods of densification coupled with combustion synthesis (hot pressing, spark plasma sintering, etc.);
  • Demonstrate knowledge of current industrial applications of the combustion synthesis processes and your own proved opinion about the most prospective future applications.

Course Content

Part I. Fundamentals of combustion synthesis (8 hours)

  • Introduction: history, present days and future of the CS, an overview.
  • Thermodynamics of the CS. Main classes of the SHS-products and chemical routes for their synthesis. Practical work on thermodynamic calculation of the adiabatic temperature and product composition for different SHS-systems, using the “THERMO” software.
  • Chemical kinetics of the CS-reactions. Significance of the Arrhenius law for SHS. Thermal explosion and autowave modes of the process.
  • Elements of the solid flame propagation theory. Classical thermal theory of volume combustion and flame propagation in homogeneous medium. Modern discrete (micro-heterogeneous) models. Experimental methods and experimentally measured regularities. Practical work on experimental measurement of the instant and average reaction wave propagation velocity; computer treatments of the results of high-speed video recording.

Part II. Structural macrokinetics of CS (7 hours)

  • Formation of the microstructure and phase composition of the materials during CS. Quenching of the combustion synthesis waves and study of structure evolution by SEM, TEM, layer-by-layer XRD and other methods. Treatment of the high resolution SEM and TEM pictures of the SHS products, identification of phases and microstructure elements.
  • Crystal structure formation during CS. Time-resolved methods of X-rays and Synchrotron rays diffraction. Practical work on analysis of the time-resolved X-ray diffraction data and determining of the dynamics of phase transformations during solid-state high-temperature reactions.

Part III. New classes of CS processes and products (8 hours).

  • Mechanical pre-activation of the reactive mixtures and mechanically-assisted SHS.
  • Reactive multilayer nanofoils for joining materials.
  • Solution combustion synthesis. Producing of nanopowders of oxides and metals.
  • Nano-thermite systems (superthermites) for pyrotechnical applications.
  • CS in the problem of Space and Planets exploration. Microgravity experiments.

Part IV. Technological and industrial applications (7 hours).

  • Powders production. SHS-reactors.
  • SHS with hot pressing. Poreless materials: cermets, intermetallics.
  • SHS with Spark Plasma Sintering.
  • SHS-welding and casting.
  • Promising directions for future applications.

Reading List

Core Texts:

  1. A.S.Rogachev and A.S.Mukasyan: Combustion for material synthesis, CRC Press, 2014, 400 pp. ISBN-13: 978-1482239515 (to be released at December 26, 2014).
  2. Varma A., Rogachev A.S., Mukasyan A.S., Hwang S., Combustion synthesis of advanced materials: principles and applications. in: Advances in chemical engineering (James Wei, editor-in chief), Academic Press, 1998, v.24, p.79-226.

Secondary Text:

  1. Rogachev A.S. Dynamics of structure formation in SHS products. In the book: Self-Propagating High-temperature Synthesis of Materials (Anatoli A. Borisov, Luigi de Luca, and A. Merzhanov, editors). Combustion Science and Technology Series, v.5. Taylor & Francis. 2002. p.55-76.
  2. Patil K.C., Hedge M.S., Rattan Tanu, Aruna S.T. Chemistry of Nanocrystalline Oxide Materials: Combustion Synthesis, Properties and Applications, World Scientific, New Jersey, 2008, 345 pp.
  3. Merzhanov A.G., Sytschev A.E. About Self-propagating High-temperature Synthesis. Interactive handbook.

Peripheral Reading:

  1. International Journal of Self-propagating High-temperature Synthesis. Volumes 1-23 (1991 — 2014).
  2. Combustion and Plasma Synthesis of High Temperature Materials, Munir, Z.A., and Holt, J.B., Eds., VCH Publishers, 1990.


Class participation20 %
Homework assignments30 %
Final exam50 %