Safe, High-Performance Rocket Propellant and Motor Design Flight Tested
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists recently flight tested a novel rocket design that includes a high-energy fuel and a motor design that also delivers a high degree of safety. Traditional solid-fuel rocket motors work by combining a fuel and an oxidizer to enhance the burning of the fuel. In higher-energy fuels this mixture can be somewhat unstable, and can contain sensitive explosives that can detonate under high shock loads or high temperatures. The new rocket fuel and motor design adds a higher degree of safety by separating the fuel from the oxidizer, both novel formulations that are, by themselves, not able to detonate. After years of development and bench-top static tests, the new rocket design was recently flight tested at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center's Socorro launch site, part of New Mexico Tech. The Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists will now work to scale-up the design, as well as explore miniaturization of the system, in order to exploit all potential applications that would require high-energy, high-velocity, and correspondingly high safety margins.