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Ignition of Nitromethane-Based Propellant Mixtures

Kurilov, Maxim and Ziemer, Lennart and Weiser, Volker and Ricker, Sophie Clara and Kirchberger, Christoph and Schlechtriem, Stefan (2023) Ignition of Nitromethane-Based Propellant Mixtures. International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion, 23 (1), pp. 53-67. Begell House. doi: 10.1615/IntJEnergeticMaterialsChemProp.2023049577. ISSN 2150-766X.

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Official URL: https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/en/journals/17bbb47e377ce023,forthcoming,49577.html


Hydrazine is a commonly used propellant in spacecraft and satellite propulsion, but it is toxic as well as carcinogenic, and consequently the high costs associated with its handling, have led the propulsion community to seek alternatives. Our research group is exploring the use of nitromethane, a low-toxicity substance and a staple laboratory solvent, as the primary ingredient for a green monopropellant. However, nitromethane's ignition is challenging, requiring a certain level of pressure for stable combustion. To improve ignition and combustion behavior, we screened additives including transition metal acetylacetonates and other organometallic compounds. Gas-tight vessels in a DSC device and single droplet combustion tests were used to measure the influence of additives on the exotherm onset and peak in nitromethane thermal decomposition. The screening showed that some transition metal acetylacetonates and other organometallic compounds effectively enhance thermal decomposition in sealed-vessel DSC measurements. Ferrocene had the most significant influence: addition of 2 wt. % of this substance to nitromethane caused a decomposition peak shift from 384 °C to 280 °C. In single droplet combustion tests in an oxygen-deprived atmosphere at 3 bar, the addition of ferrocene caused a 40 % reduction of the droplet ignition delay time, combined with a 20 % higher combustion rate compared to neat nitromethane. This makes ferrocene a strong candidate for the use as an ignition and combustion catalyst in nitromethane-based propellants.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/199831/
Document Type:Article
Title:Ignition of Nitromethane-Based Propellant Mixtures
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Kurilov, MaximUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-0256-7126UNSPECIFIED
Weiser, VolkerFraunhofer-Institut für Chemische Technologie, Pfinztal, DUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Ricker, Sophie ClaraUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-3036-6279UNSPECIFIED
Kirchberger, ChristophUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-7574-2581147692804
Date:13 October 2023
Journal or Publication Title:International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 53-67
Publisher:Begell House
Keywords:rocket propellant, green propulsion, nitromethane, CH3NO2, energetic material, single droplet combustion, ferrocene
HGF - Research field:other
HGF - Program:other
HGF - Program Themes:other
DLR - Research area:Aeronautics
DLR - Program:L DT - Defense Technology
DLR - Research theme (Project):L - Effect
Location: Lampoldshausen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Space Propulsion > Spacecraft and Orbital Propulsion
Deposited By: Kurilov, Maxim
Deposited On:29 Nov 2023 09:03
Last Modified:29 Jan 2024 12:53

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