Mechanical Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-16-2023


Thermal battery iron-potassium perchlorate (Fe/KClO4) heat pellets are often ignited by explosive igniters or heat paper. An alternative direct electrical ignition method via resistive heating is explored, which could improve thermal battery manufacturability and design flexibility. A main effects screening experiment was performed with the goal of confirming prior observed trends under more realistic test conditions and ranking the importance of design factors, to optimize future experiments and develop knowledge of the performance space. Relevant literature is examined to advance a theoretical understanding of resistive activation. Ignition sensitivity (go/no-go and time to ignition) and ignition energy are primary responses that determine the feasibility of this technology in thermal batteries. Heat pellet density, electrode gap size, ignition circuit line resistance and voltage, and iron particle size are important factors that influence these responses. With this information, future experiments can be optimized because the design tradespace for resistive activation is better understood.


Thermal battery, heat pellet, heat powder, iron potassium perchlorate, electrical ignition of powder, resistive heating in powder

Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Mechanical Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Peter Vorobieff

Second Committee Member

Henry Padilla

Third Committee Member

Pankaj Kumar


Sandia National Laboratories

Document Type