Research Article Open Access

Finite Element Modeling of Transient Temperatures in a Small-Caliber Projectile

M. Brian Thomas1 and Leon Dozier1
  • 1 Cleveland State University, United States


Problem statement: Future generations of intelligent munitions will use Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) for guidance, fuzing logic and assessment of the battlefield environment. The temperatures fund in a gun system, however, are sufficient to damage some materials used in the fabrication of MEMS. The motivation of this study is to model the dynamic temperature distribution in a typical small-caliber projectile. Approach: An axisymmetric finite-element model of a projectile is developed to simulate temperatures through internal ballistics (the projectile is in the gun barrel) and external ballistics (the projectile travels in a free trajectory towards the target). Accuracy of the simulation is confirmed through comparison to analytical models and to payloads attached to experimental projectiles. In the simulation, the exact values for some boundary conditions are unknown and/or unknowable. A sensitivity analysis determines the effect of these uncertain parameters. Results: The simulation shows that friction at the projectile-gun barrel interface is primarily responsible for elevated temperatures in a gun system. Other factors have much smaller effects. The short duration of the internal ballistics prevents the frictional heat from diffusing into the bulk of the projectile. As a result, the projectile has a shallow, high-temperature zone at its bearing surface as it leaves the gun barrel. During external ballistics, this heat will diffuse through the projectile, but most of the projectile experiences temperatures of 56°C or lower. Simulation shows that the polymer package around a MEMS device will further attenuate heat flow, limiting temperatures in the device to less than 30°C. Conclusion: The finite element model demonstrates that a MEMS device may be engineered to survive temperatures expected in the ballistic environment.

American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Volume 3 No. 2, 2010, 355-362


Submitted On: 19 October 2009 Published On: 30 June 2010

How to Cite: Thomas, M. B. & Dozier, L. (2010). Finite Element Modeling of Transient Temperatures in a Small-Caliber Projectile. American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 3(2), 355-362.

  • 1 Citations



  • Ballistics
  • finite element modeling