Pyrotechnic initiator

Pyrotechnic Initiator

Pyrotechnic initiator

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A pyrotechnic initiator (also initiator or igniter) is a device containing a pyrotechnic composition used primarily to ignite other, more difficult-to-ignite materials, e.g. thermites, gas generators, and solid-fuel rockets. The name is often used also for the compositions themselves.

Pyrotechnic initiators are often controlled electrically (called electro-pyrotechnic initiators), e.g. using a heated bridgewire or a bridge resistor. They are somewhat similar to blasting caps or other detonators, but they differ in that there is no intention to produce a shock wave. An example of such pyrotechnic initiator is an electric match.


The energetic material used, often called pyrogen, is usually a pyrotechnic composition made of a fuel and oxidizer, where the fuel produces a significant amount of hot particles that cause/promote the ignition of the desired material.

Initiator compositions are similar to flash powders, but they differ in burning speed, as explosion is not intended, and have intentionally high production of hot particles. They also tend to be easier to ignite than thermites, with whom they also share similarities.

Common oxidizers used are potassium perchlorate and potassium nitrate. Common fuels used are titanium, titanium hydride, zirconium, zirconium hydride, and boron. The size of the fuel particles is determined to produce hot particles with the required burning time.

More exotic materials can be used, e.g. carboranes.

For special applications,......
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