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Enhanced development of a catalyst chamber for the decomposition of up to 1.0 kg/s hydrogen peroxide

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A new innovative hybrid rocket engine concept is developed within the AHRES program of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). This rocket engine based on hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) with metallic additives as solid fuel and high test peroxide (HTP) as liquid oxidizer. Instead of a conventional ignition system, a catalyst chamber with a silver mesh catalyst is designed to decompose the HTP. The newly modified catalyst chamber is able to decompose up to 1.0 kg/s of 87.5 wt% HTP. Used as a monopropellant thruster, this equals an average thrust of 1600 N. The catalyst chamber is designed using the self-developed software tool SHAKIRA. The applied kinetic law, which determines catalytic decomposition of HTP within the catalyst chamber, is given and commented. Several calculations are carried out to determine the appropriate geometry for complete decomposition with a minimum of catalyst material. A number of tests under steady state conditions are carried out, using 87.5 wt% HTP with different flow rates and a constant amount of catalyst material. To verify the decomposition, the temperature is measured and compared with the theoretical prediction. The experimental results show good agreement with the results generated by the design tool. The developed catalyst chamber provides a simple, reliable ignition system for hybrid rocket propulsion systems based on hydrogen peroxide as oxidizer. This system is capable for multiple reignition. The developed hardware and software can be used to design full scale monopropellant thrusters based on HTP and catalyst chambers for hybrid rocket engines.

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Advanced Hybrid Rocket Engine Simulation



H2O2 :

Hydrogen peroxide

O2 :



Hybrid rocket engine


Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene


High test peroxide


Liquid rocket engine


Dinitrogen tetraoxide (N2O4)


Simulation of High test peroxide Advanced (K)catalytic Ignition system for Rocket Applications

A 0 [mol/(s∙kgcat∙K1/2)]:

Zero order reaction const

A 1 [m3/(s∙kgcat∙K1/2)]:

First order reaction const

c p [J/(kg K)]:

Specific heat capacity at constant pressure

c v [J/(kg K)]:

Specific heat capacity at constant volume

c* [m/s]:

Characteristic velocity

E a [J/mol]:

Activation energy

m [kg]:


\( \dot{m} \) [kg/s]:

Mass flow

M [kg/mol]:

Molar mass

p c [bar]:

Catalyst chamber pressure

r [kg/s]:

Decomposition rate

R [J/(K∙mol)]:

Universal gas const

R i [J/(kg K)]:

Specific gas const

T [K]:


x :

Vapor fraction


Vandenkerckhove function

Δp [bar]:

Pressure drop

ΔT [K]:

Temperature difference

η ΔT :

Temperature efficiency

η c* :

Characteristic velocity efficiency

κ :

Heat capacity ratio

ρ [kg/m3]:


τ :

Process time interval


Mass fraction




Catalyst conditions


Catalyst bed




Experimental value


Feed line

H2O2 :

Conditions of H2O2


Average value


Maximum value


Theoretical value


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Correspondence to Ognjan Božić.

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Božić, O., Porrmann, D., Lancelle, D. et al. Enhanced development of a catalyst chamber for the decomposition of up to 1.0 kg/s hydrogen peroxide. CEAS Space J 8, 77–88 (2016).

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