Encyclopedia Astronautica

Mixed Oxides of Nitrogen - Nitric oxide (NO) is a low-boiling cryogenic gas. Both the liquid and the solid are blue. Solutions of NO in nitrogen tetroxide sharply depress the freezing point of the high-melting oxidiser. The mechanism of depression is believed to involve the formation of N2O3, which is soluble in nitrogen tetroxide. Solutions are called mixed oxides of nitrogen (MON), and have been used as oxidisers for liquid-rocket engines. Various concentrations have been considered. However, the high vapour pressure of MON limits the concentration of NO in N2O4 to about 30 per cent. Aside from the high vapour pressure of MON, the material is quite similar to nitrogen tetroxide. Hydrazine (N2H4) found early use as a fuel, but it was quickly replaced by UDMH. It is still used as a monopropellant for satellite station-keeping motors.

Hydrazine marketed for rocket propellant contains a minimum of 97 per cent N2H4, the other constituent being primarily water. Hydrazine is a clear, water-white, hygroscopic liquid. The solid is white. Hydrazine a toxic, flammable caustic liquid and a strong reducing agent. Its odour is similar that of ammonia, though less strong. It is slightly soluble in ammonia and methyl-amine. It is soluble in water, methanol, ethanol, UDMH, and ethylenediamine. Hydrazine is manufactured by the Raschig process, which involves the oxidation of ammonia to chloramine, either indirectly with aqueous sodium hypochlorite or directly with chlorine, and subsequent reaction of chloramine with excess ammonia. Raw materials include caustic, ammonia, and chlorine; these are high-tonnage, heavy chemicals. The cost of anhydrous hydrazine in drum quantities in 1959 was $ 7.00 per kg. The projected price, based on large-scale commercial production, was expected to be $ 1.00 per kg. Due to environmental regulations, by 1990 NASA was paying $ 17.00 per kg.

Oxidizer: MON. Fuel: Hydrazine. Propellant Formulation: MON/Hydrazine. Optimum Oxidizer to Fuel Ratio: 1.4. Temperature of Combustion: 3,325 deg K. Density: 1.19 g/cc. Oxidizer Density: 1.370 g/cc. Fuel Density: 1.008 g/cc. Fuel Freezing Point: 2.00 deg C. Fuel Boiling Point: 113 deg C.

Specific impulse: 343 s.
Specific impulse sea level: 295 s.

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Associated Engines
  • Dual Mode-Liquid Apogee Engine TRW MON/Hydrazine rocket engine. 0.454 kN. In Production. Isp=314s. First Flight: April 1991. Burn Time 24,000 sec total, with a 3600 sec maximum single burn. Hypergolic ignition via 28 V current to an on/off bi-propellant torque motor valve. More...

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