Mofs Might Make Rocket Fuels Safer

Market Expertz   |     April 11, 2019


Scientists might have found a new way to make rocket fuel cleaner and safer. A recent study suggests that it might be possible to create rocket fuel much cleaner and safer than the hypergolic fuels that are typically used in rocket engines, without compromising on the performance. The new fuel employs simple chemical ‘triggers’ to derive the energy from one of the newly popular materials called metal-organic frameworks of MOFs, which is a class of porous solids. The MOFs are made up of groups of metal ions and an organic molecule that is called a linker.

Hypergolic fuels are extremely dangerous to work with. Currently, the fuels that are primarily used include hydrazine that is a highly toxic and volatile chemical compound formed by a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. Hydrazine –based fuels have such carcinogenic effects that the people who handle and work with the compound need to get suited up in a similar fashion as space travelers. However, satellites and space stations that remain in orbit for a long duration heavily rely on hypergolic propellants. These fuels carry excess energy which means that they immediately ignite in the presence of an oxidizer. Even though the detrimental effects of these fuels are well-known, the aerospace industry ends up releasing nearly 12,000 tons of hydrazine fuel into the atmosphere every year.

The new method for highly-combustible fuels also offers to make it cleaner and safer fuels than those that are currently used in the industry. These fuels also undergo rapid combustion, which is an essential characteristic of rocket fuels. The researchers believe that even though the materials are still in the initial stages of development, they will create new possibilities for creating a class of new, clean and tunable hypergolic fuels for aerospace applications. They are also exploring the commercialization of technology.

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