Determining the Master Curve of Aged Solid Propellant using a Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer


Understanding aging in solid propellants is important for predicting the service lifetime of solid rocket motors in aerospace and defense applications. The accurate measurement of the master curve of the propellant is necessary for input into finite element simulations of fracture and debonding in solid rocket motors that lead to their failure. The use of a dynamic mechanical analyzer over conventional stress relaxation tests presents several advantages including smaller specimen size, which simplifies the artificial aging procedure, and results in improved accuracy due to the application of smaller strains. A method is presented for measuring the master curve of a particular propellant, viz. hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB), using a dynamic mechanical analysis setup. Specimens were artificially aged at 50 and 60◦ C for durations ranging from one to eight weeks in order to approximate up to six years of natural aging at room temperature. The measured master curves show that increasing the artificial aging time at 60◦ C leads to a higher relaxation modulus for a given reduced time. This is attributed to higher cross-link density in aged HTPB specimens. Aging at 50◦ C for the given durations shows less of an effect, which indicates that 50◦ C is not a sufficiently high temperature for inducing aging in the time periods studied for the manufactured specimens. The measured master curves can be used to inform material models such as Prony series in finite element simulations for predicting the lifetime of solid rocket motors.

Meeting Name

AIAA Scitech Forum, 2019 (2019: Jan. 7-11, San Diego, CA)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Aviation; Finite element method; Polybutadienes; Rocket engines; Rockets; Solid propellants; Stress relaxation, Accurate measurement; Cross-link densities; Dynamic mechanical analyzer; Finite element simulations; Hydroxyl terminated polybutadienes; Relaxation modulus; Solid rocket motors; Stress relaxation tests, Dynamics

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Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2019 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2019