US20010003294A1 - Flowable solid profellant - Google Patents

Flowable solid profellant Download PDF

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US20010003294A1
US20010003294A1 US09/197,541 US19754198A US2001003294A1 US 20010003294 A1 US20010003294 A1 US 20010003294A1 US 19754198 A US19754198 A US 19754198A US 2001003294 A1 US2001003294 A1 US 2001003294A1
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pellets
propellant
liquid oxidizer
polymer
tank
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US6361629B2 (en
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Kevin E. Mahaffy
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US Air Force
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    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C06EXPLOSIVES; MATCHES
    • C06BEXPLOSIVES OR THERMIC COMPOSITIONS; MANUFACTURE THEREOF; USE OF SINGLE SUBSTANCES AS EXPLOSIVES
    • C06B45/00Compositions or products which are defined by structure or arrangement of component of product
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C06EXPLOSIVES; MATCHES
    • C06BEXPLOSIVES OR THERMIC COMPOSITIONS; MANUFACTURE THEREOF; USE OF SINGLE SUBSTANCES AS EXPLOSIVES
    • C06B23/00Compositions characterised by non-explosive or non-thermic constituents
    • C06B23/001Fillers, gelling and thickening agents (e.g. fibres), absorbents for nitroglycerine
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C06EXPLOSIVES; MATCHES
    • C06BEXPLOSIVES OR THERMIC COMPOSITIONS; MANUFACTURE THEREOF; USE OF SINGLE SUBSTANCES AS EXPLOSIVES
    • C06B47/00Compositions in which the components are separately stored until the moment of burning or explosion, e.g. "Sprengel"-type explosives; Suspensions of solid component in a normally non-explosive liquid phase, including a thickened aqueous phase

Abstract

Provided is a method for preparing a flowable solid propellant wherein a) liquid oxidizer is added to a tank, b) pellets of cross-linked hydrogel polymer are added to the liquid oxidizer in the tank so that liquid oxidizer is absorbed into the pellets to form flowable combustible pellets and c) the combustible pellets are then flowed into a combustion chamber of a vehicle to combust and the combustion products flow out the propulsion nozzle of the vehicle. Also provided are the liquid oxidizer absorbed flowable combustible pellets so made.

Description

    STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
  • [0001] The invention described herein may be manufactured and used by or for the Government for governmental purposes without the payment of any royalty thereon.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention [0002]
  • This invention relates to a solid propellant, particularly a flowable solid propellant. [0003]
  • 2. Description of Related Art [0004]
  • Today, most rocket propulsion falls into one of two categories, namely solid or liquid systems. Solid motors have the advantage of being low cost and storable. These rockets also have their disadvantages such as lower volumetric propellant loading and lack of ability to vary the thrust profile after the motor is manufactured. Liquid engines have the advantage of higher efficiency, higher volumetric loading of the propellants and throttleability. However, the liquid systems suffer most from their high cost, complexity and lack of storability. [0005]
  • There is thus a need for a new propellant that overcomes the above prior art shortcomings. [0006]
  • There has now been discovered a propellant that is storable, flowable, of high volumetric loading and throttleable [0007]
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Broadly the present invention provides a method for preparing a flowable solid propellant comprising, [0008]
  • a) adding liquid oxidizer to a tank and [0009]
  • b) adding pellets of cross-linked hydrogel polymer to the liquid oxidizer to form a mixture in the tank so that at least some of the liquid oxidizer is absorbed into at least some of the pellets to form flowable combustible pellets. [0010]
  • Also provided is a propellant comprising, cross-linked hydrogel polymer pellets and a liquid oxidizer absorbed in the pellets to form a flowable combustible propellant. [0011]
  • By “propellant” as used herein, is meant the overall mixture in the tank, e.g., of polymer pellets and liquid oxidizer (whether absorbed into the pellets or not, including between them) and additives if any, e.g. of metal, all of which add up to 100 wt. % (of the propellant). [0012]
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The invention will become more apparent from the following detailed specification and drawings in which; [0013]
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic sectional elevation view of a process step embodying the present invention; [0014]
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic sectional elevation view of another step in a process embodying the present invention; [0015]
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic sectional elevation view of yet another step in a process embodying the present invention; [0016]
  • FIG. 4 is a schematic sectional elevation view of still another step in a process embodying the present invention and [0017]
  • FIG. 5 is a graph showing a burn rate of a propellant embodying the present invention. [0018]
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Referring in more detail to the drawings, a pelletized hydro-gel polymer [0019] 10 such as poly vinyl alcohol (PVA) or polyacrylamide (PAM), which can contain other ingredients such as metals, is cross-linked to a specified level and then added to a tank 14 of liquid oxidizer 12 to form a type of solid propellant 16, sometimes called a solution propellant (see FIGS. 1 and 2).
  • Per the invention, the degree of cross-linking determines the amount of oxidizer absorbed by the polymer. The optimum amount of cross-linking of polymer is determined by testing to obtain the best oxidizer to fuel (O/F) ratio and specific impulse (ISP). This will vary with various polymers but in general such polymer is cross-linked from 2×10[0020] −5 to 2×10−4 moles branch points per gram of polymer, including in the polymer pellets that are later combined with oxidizer per the invention. In this way, a solid propellant can be formed without hazardous mixing operations.
  • In addition to PVA and PAM, other polymers suitable for use in the pellets of the invention are celluosic hydroxy functional, celluosic methoxy functional, polysaccharides, polyvinyl amines & salts thereof, polyvinyl ethers, polyethylene glycol (PEG), polypropylene glycol, polytetrahydrofuran (PTHF) and co-polymers thereof. [0021]
  • The pellets can be of various sizes per the invention as long as they are flowable into the combustion chamber and fully combustible therein or nearly so. That is, The size of the pellets used will vary according to the application. Larger systems will have larger combustion chambers with longer residence times and hence can use larger pellets. The range of pellet sizes can be as small as 20 microns and as large as 2 cm thick. [0022]
  • The liquid oxidizers that can be used in this system include hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl ammonium nitrate (HAN) and hydroxyl ammonium dinitromide (HADN). If the system is intended for tactical applications, a very storable oxidizer such as HAN can be used. If a long shelf life is not needed, a low cost oxidizer such as hydrogen peroxide can be sufficient. Other oxidizers that can be used include hydroxyl ammonium (HA) salts, nitrates including ammonium nitrate, dinitramides including ammonium dinitramide, nitroformates including hydroxyl ammonium nitroformate and perchlorates. Also employed are mixtures (e.g., binary, ternary, quarternary . . . ) of nitrates, dinitramides, nitroformates and perchlorates such as ammonium nitrate & HAN; ammonium dinitramide & ammonium nitrate (ADN & AN) and HADN & ammonium nitrate. [0023]
  • Examples of the make-up of the above oxidizers is as follows. For H[0024] 2O2 one can have 70-99 wt. % H2O2, the balance being H2O. For HAN, one can have 80-99 wt. % HAN, the balance being H2O, with like ratios for HADN.
  • Also by HAN-5 is meant that 5% of the HAN is just AN, i.e., ammonium nitrate and the rest is HAN. Further one can have 80-99 wt. % HAN-5, the balance being H[0025] 2O, which equals 100% liquid oxidizer.
  • Then when the polymer pellets are combined with the liquid oxidizer, a preferred range is 10-25 wt. % PVA or PAM., added to the liquid oxidizer, which makes up the balance in the tank whether absorbed in the pellets or not. In Example 1 given below, the ratios are 14 wt. % PVA and 86 wt. % liquid oxidizer in the tank. [0026]
  • The hydro-gel solid propellant can fill a pressure vessel at levels approaching one hundred percent as opposed to eighty percent in a conventional solid rocket motor. The spaces between the pellets in the tank, can be filled with excess oxidizer or monopropellant as indicated above and in FIG. 3. [0027]
  • Thus rocket [0028] 20 having tank 22, has liquid oxidizer 25 therein, as shown in FIG. 2. Into the tank 22 is then poured hydrogel polymer pellets 10 per FIG. 2.
  • The so poured pellets [0029] 10 absorb liquid oxidizer according to the extent of the cross-linked hydrogel therein to form combustible pellets 16 in the tank 22, as shown in FIG. 3. The rocket 20 optionally has an annular solid propellant or fuel lining 30 mounted in the combustion chamber 32, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3.
  • A pressurization system [0030] 26 at the top of the propellant tank 22 can cause hydrogel solid propellant to flow under pressure through a variable valve 24, per FIGS. 3 & 4. This valve allows the rocket's thrust to be throttled and if necessary shut off, as indicated in FIG. 2, with valve open position at 24 a & valve closed position at 24 b as shown. The propellant next flows around an injector 28, such as a pig tail or a pintle injector, in order to break up or distribute the stream such that combustion is improved. The propellant then enters a combustion chamber 32 that in some configurations can be lined with solid propellant as noted, to help ignite the hydro-gel propellant 16 and provide higher thrust for boost, as well as increase the mass fraction of the motor. After completing combustion, the gaseous products flow through a conventional rocket nozzle 34.
  • The following example serves to illustrate the propellant of the present invention and should not be construed in limitation thereof. [0031]
  • EXAMPLE 1 Crosslinked PVA/HAN-5 Propellant I. Preparation of Crosslinked PVA Using Borax (Sodium Borate)
  • 1. Prepared solution of borax in water (borax:water={fraction (1/16)}by weight): [0032]
  • In a beaker, 1.6 g of borax was weighed, then 25.64 ml of water was added. The mixture (1) was stirred until all the borax dissolved into the water. [0033]
  • 2. Prepared solution of PVA in water (5% of PVA by weight!: [0034]
  • Into a large beaker, 95 g water and ice was added and stirred up well using a glass rod. An amount of 5.007 g of non-heated PVA was added slowly to the mixture of ice and water with stirring. A hot plate was used to heat the mixture of PVA/water slowly up to 80-90C. A magnetic stirrer was utilized to stir the solution. When the temperature was above 80 C., the white color of this mixture (due to PVA color) disappeared and the solution became thick and clear [mixture (2)]. [0035]
  • 3. Cross-linking PVA by adding solution of borax: [0036]
  • In a smaller beaker, 40.00 g of mixture (2) was weighed, then all the mixture (1) was with stirring. A 50.4035 g of gel formed. It was transferred to a dry container and in an oven at 40 C. for few days. The dry solid was removed from the oven and ground into small pieces. [0037]
  • III. Propellant Formulation
  • The % ingredients of propellant included: [0038]
  • Cross-linked PVA: 14% [0039]
  • and HAN-5: 86% [0040]
  • The above ingredients were weighed in to tiny cups (0.25″ high, 0.094″ diameter) which used to burn propellant in a window bomb. The cups were placed in a desiccator at temperature for a week to make sure all PVA absorbed HAN-5 had gelled. [0041] Cup # weight of cross-linked PVA weight of HAN-5 1 invalid x 2 invalid x 3 .0045 .0294 4 .0046 .0323 5 0045 .0286 6 .0046 .0296 7 .0046 .0313 8 .0052 .0323 9 .0045 .0274 10  .0047 .0317 11  .0044 .0276 12  .0058 .0370 13  .0044 .0275 14  .0048 .0299
  • III. Results from the Window Bomb
  • 1. Burn rate of crosslinked PVA/HAN-5 based propellant [0042]
  • Cups filled with HAN-5 and cross-linked PVA were burned in the window bomb at 300, 500, 1000 and 1500 psi. Three tests were done at each pressure. One of the three tests failed at pressures of 300 and 500 psi. Even though the hot wire heated up for a long time and became very bright, the propellant did not ignite, then suddenly it exploded. [0043]
  • Burn rate increase was observed as the pressure increased up to 1000 psi, however, at 1500 psi reduced burn rate was obtained (Table 1): [0044] TABLE 1 Burn Rate of Cross-linked PVA/HAN-5 Based Propellant Pressure (psi) Average Burn Rate (ips) Burn Rate exponent: 1.4593  300 0.2400  500 0.7576 1000 2.3810 1500 2.2936
  • 2. Comparison to liquid propellants such as HAN-5 based monopropellants: [0045]
  • Burn rates of different HAN-5 based monopropellants using window bomb at 1000 psi and the corresponding burn rate exponents are depicted in Table 2: [0046] TABLE 2 Burn Rates and Burn Rate exponents of HAN-5 Based Monopropellants Burn rate (ips) Fuel (%) HAN-5 (%) at 1000 psi Exponent n Methanol 18 82 .936 2.922 Ethanol 14 86 .833 2.016 Isopropanol 10 90 1.34 2.649 1-Butyn-2-ol 14 86 2.94
  • Thus the flowable solid propellant of the invention compares favorably with prior art liquid propellants which, however, have the limitations noted above. [0047]
  • In the above example, cross-linking of the polymer takes place chemically as indicated in step 3 above. However, on a commercial scale, the polymer is best cross-linked by electron beam irradiation thereof. For examples of such process, see the following two Articles: [0048]
  • S. H. Hyon and Y. Ikada, [0049] Radiation Crosslinking of Biomedical Hydrogels, 6th Symposium on Radiation Chemistry, 1986 and
  • PL-TR-97-3039, [0050] Radiation Induced Bonding/Crosslinking of PVA Film, Walter Chappas, Damilic Corporation, Phase I SBIR (1997)
  • which are incorporated herein by reference. [0051]
  • The invention thus creates a rocket motor with several advantages; a rocket motor with high propellant loading, no hazardous mixing operation, low cost propellants, variable thrust levels and uses simple, low cost hardware. [0052]
  • Thus the invention has many advantages in certain applications. In comparison to solid rocket motors, It allows the production of a rocket motor with high propellant loading because the propellant can fill up the entire pressure vessel. This allows more total impulse to be packaged into the same volume. Also, there is no need for insulation and its associated inert weight and volume in the tank where the injectable solution propellant is stored. However, there can be some inert weight for systems such as injectors and expulsion systems. Unlike solid rocket motors, there are no hazardous mixing operations as well as the costs associated with working with hazardous materials. The propellant filling procedure can be done on the launch pad where the propellant of this invention is used in space operations. This eliminates the cost associated with transporting a heavy and hazardous missile to the launch site. It also eases launch site operations. The propellants themselves are of low cost. [0053]
  • Solid rocket motors sometime require very extensive range safety equipment to terminate thrust in the case of system failure. This is causing solid propulsion to lose its attractiveness to some users. In the present invention, thrust can be terminated by closing a valve and at worst by depressurizing the propellant tank. [0054]
  • Another advantage of this invention is the lack of bonded surface area of solid propellant. Bondliner failures are a major source of reliability problems in solid rocket motors. This concept uses solid propellant in such a way as to obviate the need for case bondliners. The propellant also does not need strong mechanical properties such as modulus, tensile strength, and elongation. This has been a particularly difficult problem in solution propellants to date. Since no combustion takes place in the propellant tank, the inert weight associated with insulation is unnecessary. The combustion chamber can be smaller which further reduces failure modes compared to solid rockets. [0055]
  • In contrast to liquid rockets, the hardware used in this invention can be very low cost. The rocket will use one propellant tank instead of two and hence one pressurization system, and one injector. The injector can be cheap and simple since it only has to break up the stream of pellets not mix two separate liquids. The motor can also be easy to throttle since opening and closing a valve can change the mass flow rate of propellant entering the chamber. Combustion efficiency will not be difficult to obtain because unlike traditional liquid systems, the fuel and oxidizer are already intimately mixed. Preferably the propellant pellets are made small enough in size to complete combustion (or nearly so) before entering the nozzle throat. [0056]
  • A non-obvious advantage of this invention is ability to modify the properties of the liquid oxidizer. For example, the vapor pressure and freezing point of high concentration hydrogen peroxide is higher than would be desired for many applications. When utilized in the manner described by this invention, these difficulties may be overcome as the freezing point of the liquid oxidizer is lowered by absorption into the polymer pellets and also the pellets continue to be flowable in declining temperatures. [0057]
  • There are undoubtedly numerous other advantages that can be listed for this invention, but the last to be listed here is the ability to demilitarize or decommission the system. In traditional solid propellants it is difficult to remove the solid propellant from the case and then dispose of it in a safe and environmentally acceptable manner. However, the technology used in this invention allows the propellant to be poured out of the case and then dispersed in non-hazardous quantities. The propellant can then be rendered harmless with a simple dehydration process. [0058]
  • In another embodiment the combustion chamber is lined with solid propellant as noted above. The solid propellant can help ignite the hydro-gel propellant, provide higher thrust for boost, as well as increase the mass fraction of the motor, but it is an extra, relative to the basic invention. [0059]
  • In a further embodiment of the invention, certain metals can be added to enhance the performance of the combustible pellets of the invention. That is, certain metals can be added in powder form to the polymer before it is cross-linked. Thus, 0-25 wt. % of the propellant can be metal powder selected from the group of Al, Be, Mg and Li or a combination thereof, which is added to such polymer before it is cross-linked. For a further description of this process, see e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 5,451,277 to Arthur Katzakian et.al (1995), which is incorporated herein by reference. [0060]

Claims (18)

What is claimed is:
1. A method for preparing a flowable solid propellant comprising,
a) adding liquid oxidizer to a tank and
b) adding pellets of cross-linked hydrogel polymer to said liquid oxidizer to form a mixture in said tank so that at least some of the liquid oxidizer is absorbed into at least some of said pellets to form flowable combustible pellets.
2. The method of
claim 1
wherein said tank is in a vehicle, which tank connects with a combustion chamber for flowing pellets therebetween.
3. A method for adding solid propellant to a vehicle comprising,
a) adding liquid oxidizer to a fuel tank of said vehicle and
b) adding pellets of cross-linked hydrogel polymer to said liquid oxidizer to form a mixture in said tank in which at least some of said pellets absorb some of said liquid oxidizer to form a propellant of flowable combustible pellets.
4. The method of
claim 1
wherein said pellets are of a polymer selected from the group of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), polyacrylamide (PAM), celluosic hydroxy functional, celluosic methoxy functional, polysaccharides, polyvinyl amines & salts thereof, polyvinyl ethers, polyethylene glycol (PEG), polypropylene glycol, polytetrahydrofuran (PTHF) and co-polymers thereof.
5. The method of
claim 1
wherein said hydrogel pellets are cross-linked from 2×10−5 to 2×10−4 moles branch points per gram of polymer.
6. The method of
claim 1
wherein said liquid oxidizer is selected from the group of hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl ammonium nitrate (HAN), hydroxyl ammonium dinitromide (HADN), hydroxyl ammonium (HA) salts, nitrates including ammonium nitrate, dinitramides including ammonium dinitramide, nitroformates including hydroxyl ammonium nitroformate and perchlorates and mixtures of nitrates, dinitramides, nitroformates and perchlorates such as ammonium nitrate & HAN; ammonium dinitramide & ammonium nitrate (ADN & AN) and HADN & ammonium nitrate.
7. The method of
claim 1
wherein said polymer is 10-25 wt % of said mixture and the balance is of said liquid oxidizer.
8. The method of
claim 7
wherein said polymer is selected from the group of PVA, PAM, celluosic hydroxy functional, celluosic methoxy functional, polysaccharides, polyvinyl amines & salts thereof, polyvinyl ethers, polyethylene glycol (PEG), polypropylene glycol, polytetrahydrofuran (PTHF) and co-polymers thereof.
9. The method of
claim 1
wherein said polymer has metal therein selected from the group of Al, Be, Mg and Li or a combination thereof, which metal can be 0-25 wt. % of the propellant.
10. A method of propulsion comprising, a) adding pellets of cross-linked hydrogel to a tank of liquid oxidizer for absorption of liquid oxidizer into at least some of the pellets to form a propellant of combustible pellets, b) flowing said combustible pellets into a combustion chamber to combust same and c) flowing the combustion products out a propulsion nozzle.
11. The method of
claim 10
wherein said combustible pellets flow from said tank to said combustion chamber through an injector valve.
12. The method of
claim 10
wherein said combustion chamber is lined at least in part with an annular solid propellant
13. The method of
claim 10
wherein said propellant in said tank is flowed under pressure of an inert gas therein through said injector into said combustion chamber.
14. A propellant comprising, cross-linked hydrogel polymer pellets and a liquid oxidizer absorbed in said pellets to form a flowable combustible propellant.
15. The propellant of
claim 14
wherein said pellets are of a polymer selected from the group of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), polyacrylamide (PAM), celluosic hydroxy functional, celluosic methoxy functional, polysaccharides, polyvinyl amines & salts thereof, polyvinyl ethers, polyethylene glycol (PEG), polypropylene glycol, polytetrahydrofuran (PTHF) and co-polymers thereof
16. The propellant of
claim 14
wherein said hydrogel pellets are cross-linked from 2×10−5 to 2×10−4 moles branch points per gram of polymer.
17. The propellant of
claim 14
wherein said liquid oxidizer is selected from the group of hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl ammonium nitrate (HAN), hydroxyl ammonium dinitromide (HADN), hydroxyl ammonium (HA) salts, nitrates including ammonium nitrate, dinitramides including ammonium dinitramide, nitroformates including hydroxyl ammonium nitroformate and perchlorates and mixtures of nitrates, dinitramides, nitroformates and perchlorates such as ammonium nitrate & HAN; ammonium dinitramide & ammonium nitrate (ADN & AN) and HADN & ammonium nitrate.
18. The propellant of
claim 14
wherein said polymer has metal therein selected from the group of Al, Be, Mg and Li or a combination thereof, which metal can be 0-25 wt. % of the propellant.
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US8826640B2 (en) 2010-11-12 2014-09-09 Raytheon Company Flight vehicles including electrically-interconnective support structures and methods for the manufacture thereof
CN106495972A (en) * 2016-10-21 2017-03-15 重庆大学 A kind of electric ignition solid propellant of fuel-rich containing aluminum and preparation method thereof
CN106542942A (en) * 2016-10-21 2017-03-29 重庆大学 A kind of boracic fuel-rich electric ignition solid propellant and preparation method thereof
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