Meet NASA's Greener, Leaner Rocket Fuel
When we talk about green fuel vehicles, we are typically referring to hybrids, EVs, or hydrogen fuel cell cars, and maybe even solar vehicles. But Road cars are not the only vehicles that would benefit from advancements in drivetrain technology. For one of the newest green tech engines, we are looking to the stars. Currently, most satellites circling our planet use a fuel called hydrazine. This nearly ubiquitous satellite fuel his highly toxic and highly corrosive, and theres plenty of it drifting around in near-earth orbit. According to io9, NASA is working on a new green fuel to replace hydrazine. RELATED: Ferrari Spaceship Gives us a Glimpse of the Future The fuel is called LMP-103S. It powers a 22 Newton thrust engine, which is not a lot of power. In fact, it’s really only five pounds of thrust, which would have almost no effect on Earth. But in space, that thrust is more than enough, and is even adequate for powering larger spacecraft.
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The image you see is of a test in which NASA engineers the engine in a 10-second pulsing test, cranking up the heat each time. According to io9, LMP-103S is made up of “ammonium dinitramide supplemented with methanol, ammonia, and water.” This combination is said to be far more stable than hydrazine, is less sensitive to shock, and is less corrosive, while also being more efficient. That stability can also reduce transportation and storage costs The catch is that it burns twice as hot once underway, so NASA will have to build components to handle the heat.
LMP-103S has actually already been using this fuel on a satellite for the last five years, in tandem with a conventional hydrazine engine. Once certain engineering hurdles have been cleared this green rocket fuel should be usable on its own and on a larger scale!
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