Initial Studies on Development of High-Performance Nano-structured Fe2O3 Catalysts for Solid Rocket Propellants
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Space launch vehicles and strategic military vehicles commonly employ composite solid rocket propellants containing Fe2O3 as ballistic modifier. Nanoscale catalysts, including nanoscale Fe2O3, have been reported to exhibit superior activity in the thermal decomposition and combustion of composite rocket propellants. However, scalable methods to prepare such nano-structured catalysts with high performance as ballistic modifiers and systematic studies relating the synthesis parameters to the catalyst characteristics and consequently to the thermal and combustion properties of the composite propellant are scarce. In this paper, we report a novel and facile route to prepare nano-structured Fe2O3 with enhanced catalytic activity in the ballistic modification of ammonium perchlorate (AP)-based composite solid rocket propellant. A submerged spray precipitation method using air-assisted liquid-centered coaxial atomization has been developed to prepare these nano-structured Fe2O3 catalysts. The prepared Fe2O3 catalysts possess higher surface area and exhibit superior activity in the thermal sensitization of AP, leading to an 88% increase in the burning rate of AP-based composite solid rocket propellants, than the Fe2O3 catalyst prepared via traditional precipitation method. Merits of the developed preparatory route, influence of the atomization process on the nano-structure morphology and subsequent benefits of these nano-structured catalysts on the ballistic properties of AP-based propellants are demonstrated and discussed in this paper.
Keywordsadvanced characterization aerospace catalyst nano-materials nano-processing propulsion
The authors acknowledge the assistance of Mr. Arun Prabhakar and Mr. Nikhil Balasubramanian in performing the spray-based and burning rate experiments.
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