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Web Note on Cryogenic-Solid-Propellants CSPs (Jan.

9, 1998)
Dr.R.Lo, Aerospace Institute, Berlin Univ. of Technology, Marchstrasse A7e 12
D-10587 Berlin
Tel: ++(49) 30-314-21081
Fax: ++(49) 30-314-21306
E-mail: RogerLo@TU-Berlin.DE

Cryogenic Solid Rocket Motors use cryogenic solids as propellants, such as solid
hydrogen (SH2 where S stands for solid) and oxygen (SOX). Actually, any single
propellant or mixture of solid propellants among which at least one requires cooling to
remain solid, constitutes a cryogenic solid propellant. Thus, any conceivable chemical
propellant combination, be it a mono-, bi-, or tripropellant can be transformed into a CSP
to be used in a Cryogenic Solid Rocket Motor.
CSPs are stored in the combustion chamber similar to conventional solid propellant
rockets. The concept is attractive due to the high Isp and because the exhaust gases are
much more environmentally benign than those of conventional solid rockets. Just imagine
Solid Propulsion with Isps in the 300 to 400 sec range (at standard 68:1 expansion)!
Boosters would never be the same again!
I have been discussing cryogenic solids for quite a while, actually they were part of my
lecture notes on Chemical Rocket Propulsion at Stuttgart University since 1971. In
discussions, one major objection was always the predicted occurrence of DDT
(Deflagration Detonation Transition). As a central hypothesis of the concept I suggested in
1995 that the physical separation of frozen propellant elements, (e.g. SOX and SH2 in the
form of SOX-rods in a SH2 matrix or alternating disks of SOX and SH2 with a central
hole) could effectively prevent such trouble. Of course, there might exist propellant
combinations that would burn properly even when the ices are intimately mixed. As yet,
nobody knows.
A feasibility study was finished earlier in 1997 (1). It revealed the absence of any major
show-stoppers for the SOX/SH2 case. Isp is just a few seconds below LOX/LH2. Thermal
insulation requirements are similar to the STS-ET case. The study was done under
sponsorship of the German Space Agency DARA. The results were later peer reviewed
(e.g. by ESA) and drew excellent comments. At present, the next steps toward CS-
propulsion are under preparation.
Naturally, open questions about CSPs and CS-motors abound. Top most is the question
of reaction rate controllability by means of the concept of macroscopic fuel-oxidizer grain
separation. According to this concept, the combustion surface of the solid grain is a
composite of fuel and oxidizer areas. The hypothesis has it, that regression velocity
remains below detonation and should even be adjustable. Oxidizer-fuel interfaces inside
the grain could be insulated, if required.
Other questions concern design and construction, case bonding, brittleness and many
more. Very important are missing data about thermodynamic and mechanical properties
of frozen liquids and gases. In short: a whole world of experimental and theoretical
investigations awaits exploration.
A literature survey yielded no publications on the subject at all. Recently it has become
known that USAF-Phillips Lab (Edwards) is doing some contractual work on cryogenic
hybrids with frozen hydrocarbons as fuels. There is also interest in inverse hybrids of the
type GH2/SOX or LH2/SOX or the regular hybrid GOX/SH2. Results with frozen
hydrocarbons were published at the recent AIAA meeting (2). I have a patent pending on
modular solid propellant grains with fragmented combustion elements.
I encourage comments and literature citations about CSP data and CSPs themselves, if
Roger Lo, Jan.09, 1998

(1) B.Voslamber, M.Voslamber.R.Lo: "Machbarkeitsstudie kryogene Feststoffbooster
(Feasibility Study of Cryogenic Solid Boosters)", DARA Project 50TT 9631, Final
report (in German) 2/1997
(2) C.Larson, Phillipps Lab, AIAA paper 70/3076