Propellant Work

Early internet searching on the topic of sugar propellants provided a wealth of information located on numerous web sites (see list in “useful information”).  One important piece of information became apparent in this early searching - Sucrose, our most available and least expensive sugar, turns out to be the hardest sugar to work with because of its high melting point, high crystallinity, and tendency to caramelize.  Many sites were touting the use of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, because of its low melting point and resistance to caramelization.  Some were also using dextrose, in the form of corn syrup, or corn syrup/sucrose mixtures combined with various recrystallization techniques to overcome some of the difficulties of working with hot propellant mixtures.  I made the decision to purchase some sorbitol (seemed a bit more “exotic” to me and I wanted to work at safer, lower temperatures) from a local health food store and some potassium nitrate (stump remover, Wal-Mart) for my initial foray into this area.  The early success in preparing and using this propellant “hooked” me on making my own motors for use in my rockets.

Rocket Propellants consist of two and sometimes three general classes of ingredient.  These are:

1.  Oxidizers   2.  Fuels   and  3.  Additives

Each of these areas is addressed on separate pages within this site.
Shuttle Launch  --  2006
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