Maryland's Defense Patent Database

The defense community in Maryland is an R&D powerhouse. Use this database to see the innovative patents that are poised for commercialization.

Data is provided by DoD Naval labs in Southern Maryland. Database funding supported by the DoD Office of Economic Adjustment through a Defense Industry Adjustment grant program.

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Melted metal dispersal warhead

Patent Number: 7,584,702

AbstractMolten droplets of a metal fuel, such as aluminum, are dispersed into air or water for a reaction releasing energy for military or other purposes. In one warhead embodiment, a cylinder of solid metal is disposed within a ceramic heat insulator; heaters of thermite-like material are embedded in the metal; and an explosive dispersing charge is disposed around or at one end of the cylinder. On activation, the heaters are ignited to melt the metal, and the charge then detonated to disperse droplets of the molten metal. In a related embodiment, the metal and heaters are within a containment having an atomizing nozzle at one end and, oppositely of the metal from the nozzle, a piston and gas generator. When the metal is melted, the gas generator is activated to expel molten metal droplets from the nozzle. The fuel may be pressed particles heated below the melting point and then dispersed by a charge providing enough heat to melt the particles; may be a single component, fuel-rich thermite compound; and may include droplet surface tension reducing additives. Advantages are that the weight and volume of a warhead do not include explosives, binders, and underwater-use oxidizers employed with fuel particles in conventional energetic materials. A warhead may thus have greater density for effective penetration; and, since the fuel is not incorporated in an explosive, dispersing charges can be removed until use, and metal fuels hazardous when incorporated in an explosive can be used.
Patent Number7,584,702 Issue Date2009-09-08 Link USPTO website

Primary Category

Biographical Information


  • Gerrit T. Sutherland,
  • Phillip J. Miller,
  • Harold W. Sandusky,


  • The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy

Executive Summary

This patent was granted in 4 years, 105 days, which is an average speed.

It has 1 claims, which is far fewer than average for this category.

Its proximity to basic research is much less than others in this category, and it displays a slower than average technology cycle time.

This patent received fewer citations from other patents, and references far fewer other patents, as compared to other patents in this category.

Grant Time

4 years, 105 days



Patent Grant Time

This patent had an average grant time compared to others in this category.

Patent grant time can be influenced by many factors. Activities within the USPTO that are beyond the control of patent attornies can influence grant time, but short grant times can also indicate well-written patents and dedicated efforts to respond rapidly to USPTO office actions with strong arguments. Shorter grant times are preferable, and the scores for this section are inverse measures — higher scores are better.

Patent Claims

This patent has far fewer claims compared to others in this category.

The number of claims in a patent is correlated with its strength. Because greater claim counts increase the cost of a patent, more claims can indicate the importance an applicant assigns to a patent. Importantly, some may elect to file claims across multiple patents. A higher score in this metric indicates more claims, relative to others in this category.

Citations From Other Patents

This patent has received fewer citations from other patents, than others in this category.

Citations from other patents are an important measure of the significance of a patent. More citations indicate that other technologies build on a patent. Higher scores in this metric are better, and indicate more citations from other patents.

Citations to Other Patents

This patent referenced many more citations to other patents, than others in this category.

A lower number of citations to other patents can be a sign of diminished patent strength. More citations indicate dependence on more other technologies. Higher scores in this category are better, and indicate fewer citations to other patents.

Research and Innovation Indicators
These are percentile ranks — they indicate the percentage of peers with lower scores.

Proximity to Basic Research



This patent has much less proximity to basic research compared to others in this category.

Proximity to basic research is measured by comparing the number of citations to non-patent literature among a cohort of patents. Because most non-patent citations are primary research papers, a higher count indicates greater proximity to basic research.