Saturday, March 31, 2012

Metallic Hydrogen as Propellent

This gives notice that is may be possible to produce a form of metallic hydrogen with a new protocol briefly described.  The value is obvious and until we end our reliance of chemical thrust, a vast improvement.

It may also make practical a surface launch system in which external oxygen is gulped until insertion.  A hot lift at four g's until actual insertion would provide a high speed insertion capability that takes the craft well into even high orbit and well function on small amounts of fuel at that point.   We can go well past the days of just enough.

Such a configuration could eliminate the need for super sizing the tankage as has been the problem to date and even allow us to build large sized lift vessels able to hurl large tonnage into low orbit including plenty of fuel. 

The key is that hydrogen does give us the thrust needed that we cannot get from other fuel configurations that also jam the weight.  Actually flying the craft up to high altitude and high mach has been a fuel management problem that was unforgiving and simply impossible.  Technology is bypassing most of the problems and is waiting for the perfect fuel and metallic hydrogen been reconstituted and burned certainly works.

Metallic Hydrogen: A Game Changing Rocket Propellant

Isaac Silvera

Harvard University

Atomic metallic hydrogen, if metastable at ambient pressure and temperature could be used as the most powerful chemical rocket fuel, as the atoms recombine to form molecular hydrogen. This light-weight high-energy density material would revolutionize rocketry, allowing single-stage rockets to enter orbit and chemically fueled rockets to explore our solar system. To transform solid molecular hydrogen to metallic hydrogen requires extreme high pressures, but has not yet been accomplished in the laboratory. In the proposed new approach electrons will be injected into solid hydrogen with the objective of lowering the critical pressure for transformation. If successful the metastability properties of hydrogen will be studied. This new approach may scale down the pressures needed to produce this potentially revolutionary rocket propellant.

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