Project

Candlewax Rockets: A green alternative for in-space propulsion

Javier Stober

Paraffin wax (common candlewax) shows promise as a high-performing hybrid rocket propellant for chemical propulsion systems. Its inherent safety and simplicity advantages and low cost (less than $4/kg) make it well-suited for widespread adoption for launch and in-space applications. Its benign nature compared to the toxicity and carcinogenicity which characterize currently-used propellants, such as hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide, make paraffin an especially strong candidate for new entrants to the propulsion community.

The Space Enabled research group is focused on the use of paraffin wax for small satellite missions. Specifically, we are investigating the centrifugal casting of paraffin into annular geometries on Earth as well as in microgravity. The research group envisions the repurposing of paraffin thermal insulation at end of life for deorbit maneuvers. However, such a mission would require centrifugal casting of paraffin in orbit—a task which has never been done before. The microgravity environment is expected to reduce rotation rate demands for uniform casting, and the overall experimental investigation aims t… View full description

Paraffin wax (common candlewax) shows promise as a high-performing hybrid rocket propellant for chemical propulsion systems. Its inherent safety and simplicity advantages and low cost (less than $4/kg) make it well-suited for widespread adoption for launch and in-space applications. Its benign nature compared to the toxicity and carcinogenicity which characterize currently-used propellants, such as hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide, make paraffin an especially strong candidate for new entrants to the propulsion community.

The Space Enabled research group is focused on the use of paraffin wax for small satellite missions. Specifically, we are investigating the centrifugal casting of paraffin into annular geometries on Earth as well as in microgravity. The research group envisions the repurposing of paraffin thermal insulation at end of life for deorbit maneuvers. However, such a mission would require centrifugal casting of paraffin in orbit—a task which has never been done before. The microgravity environment is expected to reduce rotation rate demands for uniform casting, and the overall experimental investigation aims to quantify the differences between 1-g and microgravity centrifugal casting.

Research Topics
#space