Student: Raymond Sucaet, Undergraduate Student in Aerospace Engineering, Iowa State University
Research Mentor: Travis Sippel
Development and Analysis of Environmentally Friendly Oxidizers for Solid Rocket Propellent
My project involves the development of more environmentally friendly oxidizers for use in solid rocket propellants. Right now, ammonium perchlorate is the most used oxidizer in solid rocket propellants. However, one of the biggest drawbacks to using it is that one of the products formed during reaction is gaseous hydrochloric acid. On a large scale such as in a solid rocket booster this can be devastating to the environment around the launch area and in the upper atmosphere. What this project aims to do is developed an oxidizer cocrystal composed of Lithium Perchlorate and RDX. The products from this oxidizer will be free of hydrochloric acid since lithium perchlorate does not contain any hydrogen and the chlorine is bonded directly to the lithium in the cocrystal. The reason that the project is trying to form a cocrystal is because lithium perchlorate is hygroscopic and can recrystallize into larger crystals thus affecting the aging stability of the propellent. Pharmaceuticals have been using cocrystals to solve hygroscopicity problems in medicine for decades and the research aims to do the same here. So far the research has attempted to manufacture the cocrystal and analyze it by comparing x-ray diffraction patterns of both the milled material and the precursor compounds. Future work aims to mix the oxidizer into a propellant and test for performance.