Experimental Insight into the Catalytic Mechanism of MFe2O4(M = Ni, Zn and Co) on the Thermal Decomposition of TKX-50

Xiaoting Hou, Ming Zhang, Fengqi Zhao*, Yanjing Yang, Ting An, Hui Li, Qing Pan, Xiaohong Wang, Kun Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Synthesized dihydroxylammonium 5,5’-bistetrazole-1,1’-diolate (TKX-50) owes its outstanding application prospects in the field of insensitive solid propellants not only to its high energetic performance but also to its low mechanical sensitivity. Based on the excellent catalytic activity of bimetallic iron oxides for the thermal decomposition of TKX-50, the catalytic mechanism of bimetallic iron oxides (NiFe2O4, ZnFe2O4and CoFe2O4) for TKX-50 pyrolysis has been explored. For this study, the decomposition process of TKX-50, before and after mixing with the bimetallic iron oxides NiFe2O4, ZnFe2O4and CoFe2O4was monitored by in-situ FTIR and gas-phase MS-FTIR instruments. Of the different catalysts, ZnFe2O4gave the best result for reducing the initial decomposition temperature of TKX-50. Additionally, the activation energy of functional group cleavage of TKX-50, before and after mixing with ZnFe2O4, was also calculated for mechanism analysis from the results of the in-situ FTIR measurements. The results showed that the condensate and the gas-phase decomposition products of TKX-50 remained unchanged after mixing with different catalysts, while the activation energy of tetrazole ring cleavage was significantly reduced. The results of this study will be helpful for the rational design of insensitive solid propellant formulations containing TKX-50, and for understanding the pyrolysis mechanisms of TKX-50 before and after mixing with the efficient catalyst ZnFe2O4.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-244
Number of pages22
JournalCentral European Journal of Energetic Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • TKX-50
  • bimetallic iron oxide
  • catalysis
  • mechanism
  • thermal decomposition


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