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Space Technology Research Grants

Performance Characterization of Alternative Hypergolic Propellants

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Performance Characterization of Alternative Hypergolic Propellants
In an effort to expand upon the nation's leadership and excellence in space technology, NASA must continuously innovate. Development of a stable, nontoxic hypergolic propellant option will produce more effective, affordable, and sustainable space exploration capabilities on all scales. The efforts described in this proposal will focus on the parallel investigation of new green propellants in both their neat and gelled forms based on parameters important to rocket applications including ignition delay, characteristic velocity, and specific impulse. Drop tests will be performed to identify candidate green propellants. Selected samples will be further evaluated in a rocket test article at pressure up to 200 psia to compare against the state-of-the-art baseline of monomethylhydrazine and red-fuming nitric acid measured in the same article. These findings will allow rapid iteration on alternative liquid hypergols and the potential investigation of gelling options to reduce, and ideally, eliminate instability, toxicity and the performance gap relative to MMH/RFNA. Discoveries will most directly further NASAs In-Space Propulsion Technology Area Roadmap (02) by producing green, high energy density liquid and gelled bipropellants. The advancement of safer hypergolic propellants that meet or potentially even exceed the current performance standard will drastically reduce cost and risk currently limiting their implementation while heeding the call for a greener stewardship of Earth. More »

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