This technology will initially be targeted at hybrid rockets, and the near-term application will be hybrid rockets for a Mars sample return mission. More generally, foam-based heaters that are amenable to use at high temperatures in highly oxidizing environments can be used as igniters for virtually any non-hypergolic propellant combination. These include O2/CO, LOX/CH4, LOX/ethanol, and LOX/RP-1 among others. They can also be used to ignite hydrazine, as well as ionic liquid monopropellants such as LMP-103S and the E, Q, and A blends of AF-M315. This makes the technology applicable to engines of virtually any thrust class, from large booster engines to small attitude control engines. Specific missions of interest to NASA include ascent/descent engines for missions to Mars, the Moon, other planetary moons, and asteroids.
This technology can be used for igniting non-hypergolic bipropellants, ionic liquid monopropellants, and hydrazine in main and attitude control engines on commercial and military spacecraft, as well as main and reaction control engines on commercial and military boosters. Other aerospace applications include ignition systems and catalyst preheaters for aeropropulsion turbine engines and air heaters for hypersonic wind tunnels similar to the Aerodynamic and Propulsion Test Unit at Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC). Non-aerospace applications include ignition systems and catalyst heaters for turbine engines used for terrestrial power generation, and gas and water heaters where high efficiency is critical.