Development of Low-Toxicity Liquid Propellant System for Orbital/Sub-Orbital Applications

Mr. Joseph Clubb | Naval Air Warfare Center - Weapons Division

WP-2401

Objective

The objective of this project is to develop and demonstrate an environmentally sustainable, alternative liquid, mono or bi-propellant system that meets low to no toxicity requirements. Concurrently, the chemical propellant and delivery system will meet or surpass the state-of-the-art existing liquid systems in delivered chemical and enthalpy release of mono-methyl hydrazine (MMH) and associated mixed oxidizers (MONS). The delivery and propellant system would have benefit towards replacing the environmentally unfriendly hydrazines currently fielded, and have application for numerous platforms both Department of Defense (DoD)- and industry-wide in orbital/sub-orbital capacity.

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Technical Approach

Alternate novel liquid propellant strategies will be conducted under a phased technology development program. Relevant data will be collected on an initial select group of propellants under a trade study considering propellant toxicity issues, system performance, ignition, and storability. Propellant combinations will be screened with respect to characterized properties and response. Further refining of appropriate propellant combination factors will be conducted to include small-scale testing with respect to ignition characteristics, stability, insensitivity, performance, and toxicological studies followed by an initial down-selection of candidate propellant combinations. Initial validation of the selected combinations will be accomplished through use of a typical rocket injector with and without chamber, aimed at demonstrating ease of ignition and compatibility of the ignition approach for the propellants, directed initially towards in-space propulsion system constraints. A primary and secondary propellant combination will be down-selected based on overall balance between toxicity, performance, ease of ignition, and storage parameters. Final testing will include propellant and Throttle-able Divert Actuating Control (TDAC) delivery system integration and demonstration. This testing will provide a natural path to thruster-based performance and heat load testing, key to qualifying a propellant combination in a space-based application. A successful demonstration would provide entry level into acquisition plans for either industry or DoD applications.

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Benefits

This project aims to develop and demonstrate a low toxic, sustainable, environmentally friendly liquid fuel/oxidizer propellant eliminating hydrazine fuels with a reduced health hazard by inhalation of the candidate oxidizer. This fuel/oxidizer combination would be tailorable towards mission specific requirements applicable for both military and industrial use, and provide safe handling without a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). The government-industry partnership provides a working knowledge and shared tech base tool-kit of safe solutions for hypergol/monopropellant liquids aboard ship-borne platforms. The project seeks to transition from traditional jet diesel replacement fuels towards rocket motor/space-based applications. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2018)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Mr. Joseph Clubb

Naval Air Warfare Center - Weapons Division

Phone: 760-939-7661

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