A report describes experiments directed toward the development of paraffin-based hybrid rocket fuels that burn at regression rates greater than those of conventional hybrid rocket fuels like hydroxyl-terminated butadiene. The basic approach followed in this development is to use materials such that a hydrodynamically unstable liquid layer forms on the melting surface of a burning fuel body. Entrainment of droplets from the liquid/gas interface can substantially increase the rate of fuel mass transfer, leading to surface regression faster than can be achieved using conventional fuels. The higher regression rate eliminates the need for the complex multi-port grain structures of conventional solid rocket fuels, making it possible to obtain acceptable performance from single-port structures. The high-regression-rate fuels contain no toxic or otherwise hazardous components and can be shipped commercially as non-hazardous commodities. Among the experiments performed on these fuels were scale-up tests using gaseous oxygen. The data from these tests were found to agree with data from small-scale, low-pressure and low-mass-flux laboratory tests and to confirm the expectation that these fuels would burn at high regression rates, chamber pressures, and mass fluxes representative of full-scale rocket motors.

This work was done by Greg Zilliac and Shane DeZilwa of Ames Research Center and M. Arif Karabeyoglu, Brian J. Cantwell, and Paul Castellucci of Stanford University.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to

the Patent Counsel
Ames Research Center
(650) 604-5104.

Refer to ARC-14486-2.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2004 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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