A research study suggests that it is possible to develop fuel for rockets which can be safer and cheaper than the conventional fuels.
A research study was published on April 5, 2019, in the journal Science Advances, which reported that researchers suggest that it is possible to make cleaner and greener fuels which are way safer than the hypergolic fuels which are currently used in the aerospace industry to fuel the rockets. The novel fuel will be as effective as the conventional fuels. Basic chemicals in the new fuel will unlock the energy of materials called as metal-organic framework or MOFs, compounds made up of metal ions and organic molecule.
Spacecraft and satellites which are the base of the aerospace industry are very dependent on the hypergols. Hypergoles are energetic fuels that ignite due to the presence of oxidizer. These fuels are based on the fact that there are no oxygen molecules beyond the Earth’s atmosphere to support the process of combustion. The hypergolic fuels are mostly dependent on a very unstable chemical compound called hydrazine. The toxic compound is made up of nitrogen atoms and hydrogen atoms. These fuels are toxic to such an extent that the people who deal with the chemical compound have to wear proper heavy suits. Despite the significant precautions taken, around 12,000 tons of the harmful fuel is released in the atmosphere per year by an average aerospace industry. The new approach developed by researchers was guided by the motive to make the new cleaner fuels safer than the hydrazine fuels.
The research work taking place in the laboratory of McGill University is still at infancy. These researchers will definitely open up possibility of creating clean, safe and highly tunable fuel for the advanced industry. Tomislav FrišÄiÄ‡, professor at McGill concludes, “This is a new, cleaner approach to making highly combustible fuels, that are not only significantly safer than those currently in use, but they also respond or combust very quickly, which is an essential quality in rocket fuel.”
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