Encyclopedia Astronautica
H2O2/Kerosene


Hydrogen peroxide is used as both an oxidiser and a monopropellant. Relatively high density and non-toxic, it was abandoned after early use in British rockets, but recently revived as a propellant for the Black Horse spaceplane. Rocket propellant RP-1, or its foreign equivalents, is a straight-run kerosene fraction, which is subjected to further treatment, i.e., acid washing, sulphur dioxide extraction. Thus, unsaturated substances which polymerise in storage are removed, as are sulphur-containing hydrocarbons.

Hydrogen peroxide solutions are clear, astringent, colorless liquids which are slightly more viscous than water. They are described by Military Specification MIL-H-16005. High-strength hydrogen peroxide solutions are very reactive oxidising agents. Hydrogen peroxide is miscible in all proportions in water; it is soluble in a large number of organic liquids which are also soluble in water. However, many of these mixtures form explosive mixtures. Hydrogen peroxide-water solutions are normally insensitive to detonation by shock or impact. Surfaces that come in contact with hydrogen peroxide must be specially treated (passivated) before use, to prevent the decomposition of the hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide-water solutions and their vapours are considered non-toxic, but are characterised by their ability to produce local irritation.

Hydrogen peroxide is manufactured commercially by several processes. Inorganic processes employ the electrolysis of an aqueous solution of sulphuric acid or acidic ammonium bisulphate, followed by hydrolysis of the peroxydisulfate which is formed. For reasons of economy and flexibility of plant location, organic processing methods have become important in the production of hydrogen peroxide. These include (1) the autoxidation of hydroquinone or one of its homologues in a suitable solvent system and (2) the partial gas-phase oxidation of hydrocarbons.

Dilute aqueous hydrogen peroxide is concentrated to about 90 per cent by conventional distillation. Higher-strength solutions are prepared by fractional crystallisation of 90 per cent feed stock. Estimated United States production for 1959 was 50,000 tonnes based upon 100 per cent hydrogen peroxide. In large quantities, 95 per cent hydrogen peroxide then cost approximately $1.00 per kg. In small drum lots, 98 per cent solutions cost $ 2.00 per kg. Density varies: 1.44 g/cc for 100% H2O2, 1.43 for 98%, 2.42 for 96%, 1.33 for 75%.

Rocket propellant RP-1 is a straight-run kerosene fraction, which is subjected to further treatment, i.e., acid washing, sulphur dioxide extraction. Thus, unsaturated substances which polymerise in storage are removed, as are sulphur-containing hydrocarbons. Furthermore, in order to meet specification requirements of density, heat of combustion, and aromatic content, the kerosene must be obtained from crudes with a high naphthene content. RP-1 is an excellent solvent for many organic materials. The flash point is above 43 deg C. Above that temperature RP-1 will form explosive mixtures with air. The temperature range for explosive mixtures (rich limit) is 79 to 85 deg C. RP-1 is not so toxic as the JP series of fuels because of its lower aromatic content. In the United States, suitable kerosene fractions in 1960 were limited almost exclusively to the West Coast. The estimated 1956 United States production was 7700 tonnes, and the price was $0.05 per kg. By the 1980's it was typically $ 0.20 per kg. Russian formulations have typical densities of 0.82 to 0.85 g/cc, and even higher densities were achieved in the N1 and Soyuz 11A511U rockets by superchilling the fuel prior to loading.

Oxidizer: H2O2. Oxidizer: H2O2. Fuel: Kerosene. Fuel: Kerosene. Propellant Formulation: H2O2-98%/Kerosene. Propellant Formulation: H2O2-95%/RP-1. Optimum Oxidizer to Fuel Ratio: 7.07. Optimum Oxidizer to Fuel Ratio: 7.35. Temperature of Combustion: 2,975 deg K. Temperature of Combustion: 2,915 deg K. Ratio of Specific Heats: 1.2. Density: 1.31 g/cc. Density: 1.30 g/cc. Characteristic velocity c: 1,665 m/s (5,462 ft/sec). Isp Shifting: 276 sec. Isp Frozen: 270 sec. Mol: 22.00 M (72.00 ft). Oxidizer Density: 1.440 g/cc. Oxidizer Density: 1.440 g/cc. Oxidizer Freezing Point: -1 deg C. Oxidizer Freezing Point: -1 deg C. Oxidizer Boiling Point: 150 deg C. Oxidizer Boiling Point: 150 deg C. Fuel Density: 0.806 g/cc. Fuel Density: 0.806 g/cc. Fuel Freezing Point: -73 deg C. Fuel Freezing Point: -73 deg C. Fuel Boiling Point: 147 deg C. Fuel Boiling Point: 147 deg C.

Location: 1665.
Specific impulse: 319 s.
Specific impulse sea level: 273 s.

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Associated Spacecraft
  • FJ-4F American manned rocketplane. Study 1958. The FJ-4F was a US Navy Fury fighter fitted with a Rocketdyne AR1 engine for quick intercept of Soviet bombers. Two prototypes were tested which reached Mach 1.41 at 22 km altitude. More...
  • Zarya VA Russian manned spacecraft module. Cancelled 1989. The Zarya landing module was enlarged from the Soyuz 2.4 m diameter to 4.1 m diameter, while keeping the same shape and L/D coefficient of 0.26 at Mach 6. Reusable re-entry capsule. More...
  • New Shepard American manned spacecraft. Flight tests begun 2006. Vertical takeoff/vertical landing suborbital tourist spacecraft being developed by Blue Origin and scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2010. More...

Associated Engines
  • AR1 Rocketdyne h2o2/kerosene rocket engine. 22.260 kN. Engine for FJ-4F naval interceptor. More...
  • AR2-3 Rocketdyne h2o2/kerosene rocket engine. 29.341 kN. Future-X Demonstrator Engine. Gas generator, pump-fed. Heritage technology in evaluation for current applications. X-37 Reusable Upper Stage Vehicle. Isp=245s. More...
  • BA-3200 Beal H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 14,100 kN. Development 1990's. Pressure-fed engine with composite ablative chamber and nozzle. Helium pressurant. Thrust declines to 70% of initial value before shutdown. Isp=259s. More...
  • BA-44 Beal H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 196 kN. Development 1990's. Pressure-fed restartable engine with composite ablative chamber and nozzle. Helium pressurant. Thrust declines to 50% of initial value before shutdown. Isp=300s. More...
  • BA-810 Beal H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 3600 kN. Development 1990's. Pressure-fed engine with composite ablative chamber and nozzle. Helium pressurant. Thrust declines to 50% of initial value before shutdown. Isp=282s. More...
  • Gamma 2 Bristol Siddley H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 68.2 kN. Out of production. Isp=265s. Used on Black Arrow launch vehicle. First flight 1969. More...
  • Gamma 8 Bristol Siddley H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 234.8 kN. Out of production. Isp=265s. Used on Black Arrow launch vehicle. First flight 1969. More...
  • JP-5/H2O2 Notional H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 63 kN. Study 1993. Isp=335s. Engine for Black Horse winged, single stage to orbit launch vehicle using aerial refueling. More...
  • LR40 Reaction Motors H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 35.690 kN. F8U-1 supercruise engine, 1957. Engine exploded during an early ground test, killing two company mechanics. This accident caused Reaction Motors to pull out of the project. More...
  • LR54 Rocketdyne H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 26.4 kN. After the failure of the Reaction Motors XLR-40 for use in the F8U-1 fighter, Vought elected to continue the project using the XLR-54 . Project never reached flight status More...
  • RD-161P Glushko H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 24.5 kN. Soyuz M stage 3 (block LM). Developed 1993-. Two thrust levels. Minimum 1500 kgf. Proposed for use on Soyuz M-3. Version for H2O2 fuel, concentration 96-98%. Isp=319s. More...
  • RS-82 Rocketdyne H2O2/kerosene rocket engine. 44.463 kN. Next Generation Non-Toxic Upper Stage. Gas generator, pump-fed. Isp=320s. More...

Associated Stages
  • Beal BA-2 Stage 2 H2O2/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 189,000/14,560 kg. Thrust 3,599.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 282 seconds. Thrust declines to 50% of initial value at shut down. More...
  • Beal BA-2 Stage 3 H2O2/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 36,700/2,855 kg. Thrust 196.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 300 seconds. Thrust declines to 50% of initial value at shut down. More...
  • Beal BA-2 Stage 1 H2O2/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 744,000/45,195 kg. Thrust 14,120.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 259 seconds. Thrust declines to 70% of initial value at shut down. More...
  • Black Arrow-1 H2O2/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 14,104/1,070 kg. Thrust 234.82 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 265 seconds. More...
  • Black Arrow-2 H2O2/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 3,537/535 kg. Thrust 68.23 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 265 seconds. More...
  • Black Horse H2O2/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 83,560/6,883 kg. Thrust 443.19 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 335 seconds. Winged, single stage to orbit launch vehicle using aerial refueling and lower performance, non-cryogenic propellants. Takes off from runway at 48,452 lbs gross weight; rendezvous with tanker to load 146,870 lbs oxidizer; then flies to orbit. More...

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