Research published this week in. Scientific advances It shows that it may be possible to create rocket fuel that is much cleaner and safer than the hypergolic fuels that are commonly used today. And it's still as effective. The new fuels use simple chemical "activators" to unlock the energy of one of the most popular new materials, a clbad of porous solids known as organic metal structures or MOF. MOFs are made up of groups of metal ions and an organic molecule called a linker.
The satellites and space stations that remain in orbit for a considerable period of time depend on hypergoals, fuels that are so energetic that they will ignite immediately in the presence of an oxidant (since there is no oxygen to support the combustion beyond the atmosphere of the Earth). The hypergolic fuels that are mainly used today are dependent on hydrazine, a highly toxic and dangerously unstable chemical compound formed by a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. Hydrazine-based fuels are so carcinogenic that people who work with them should dress as if they were preparing for space travel. Despite precautions, around 12,000 tons of hydrazine end up being released into the atmosphere each year by the aerospace industry.
"This is a new and cleaner approach to producing highly combustible fuels, which are not only significantly safer than those currently used, but also respond or burn very quickly, which is an essential quality in rocket fuel. "says Tomislav Friščić. He is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at McGill and co-lead author in the article along with former McGill researcher Robin D. Rogers.
"Although we are still in the early stages of working with these materials in the laboratory, these results open the possibility of developing a clbad of new, clean and tuneable hypergolic fuels for the aerospace industry," says the first author, Hatem Titi. , a postdoctoral fellow who works in the Friščić laboratory.
Friscis is interested in commercializing this technology, and will work with McGill and Acsynam, an existing company in his laboratory, to make this happen.
Greener fuels to propel rocket launches into space
"Frames of hypergolic zeolitic imidazolate (ZIF) as next-generation solid fuels: unlocking the latent energy behavior of ZIF" Scientific advances (2019). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.aav9044, http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/4/eaav9044
Rocket fuel cleaner, safer and full of energy (2019, April 5)
retrieved on April 5, 2019
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