Texas Tech Mechanical Engineering Students partaking in a pyrotechnics research which as been going on for 17 years are at the brink of discovering a new technology for firework industry.
The team led by Dr. Michelle Pantonya, professor and J.W. Wright Regents Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering with Grad student, Dylan Smith as the team lead have discovered a way to make fireworks safer and have a longer shelf life considering that there were 12,000 firework accidents in the United States last year.
“Most fireworks are carbon based, and carbon-based fuels, they absorb water, and when they absorb water, their ignition characteristics change,” said Smith.
“They go off unpredictably, so we’re working with aluminum, and metal oxidizers, and these are much more stable”
Other students like Kevin Hill are studying other aspects of fireworks like how to reduce their sensitivity, to reduce them accidentally going off spontaneously. He said that although he has made a lot of progress, there are still some challenges in the research.
“The major issue with reducing sensitivity is that you generally reduce the amount of energy that’s released, which in terms of fireworks, that comes across as the brightness of the fireworks, so if you go to a big spectacular firework show, and you can’t see them, there’s really no point,”
He said that this is one of the hurdles, is to reduce impact sensitivity while retaining the bulk amount of energy that’s released. While their research is ongoing, the students strive to eventually someday get these fireworks on shelves and into stores.
Normal fireworks usually only have a shelf life of one to two years, but the fireworks these students are working on never age because of protective coatings on particles that prevent them from oxidizing in air.