The ignition temperature of the aluminium copper oxide (Al-CuO) thermite was measured using differential thermal analysis (DTA) at a scan rate of 50 °C/min in an inert nitrogen atmosphere. Thermite reactions are difficult to start as they require very high temperatures for ignition, e.g. for the Al-CuO thermite comprising micron particles it is ca. 940 °C. It was found that the ignition temperature is significantly reduced when the binary Si-Bi2O3 system is used as sensitiser. Further improvement is achieved when nano-sized particles are used. For the composition CuO + Al + Bi2O3 + Si (65.5:14.5:16:4 wt %), when all components except the aluminium fuel are nano-sized, the observed ignition temperature is reduced to ca. 615 °C and results in a thermal runaway.