Static Test of Hydrogen Peroxide Kerosene Motor

The videos are here! See the firing or the gauge. More pictures and Data Evaluation are available. There are pictures on the update page of the larger motor.

The Holy Grail of rocketry continues to be Cheap Access to Space (CATS). To achieve this goal a simple, inexpensive and reliable rocket is needed. With this goal in mind the Sacramento L5 built and successfully tested a small Hydrogen Peroxide (82%)/kerosene rocket early this year. The components of the motor are shown in the first picture. Click on the picture to see a larger image; use your browser's "back" button to return to this page.

  1. Bulkhead #1
  2. High Pressure Tank
  3. Bulkhead #2 with Pressure Regulator
  4. Kerosene tank
  5. HTP tank
  6. Bulkhead #3 Injector Plate
  7. Rocket Motor casing
  8. Cotton/Polyester Liner
  9. Phenolic Inlet
  10. Nozzle Section
Component view of rocket motor

Among the unique design properties of this motor are the following:

  1. Modularity. The pressure vessel and propellant tanks are threaded into 3 bulkheads used to build the rocket. The size of the rocket can be adjusted by simply replacing these tanks with those needed for the required mission.
  2. Simplicity. The rocket has one moving mechanical part—the diaphragm in the pressure regulator located in the second bulkhead.
  3. Elimination of valves, burst diaphragms and plumbing. Because the Hydrogen Peroxide oxidizer is a liquid at room temperature, the motor can be built with concentric tanks feeding the oxidizer and fuel directly into the injector plate.
  4. Pyro Valve Ignition. After the rocket is pressurized, the liquids would normally be forced into the combustion chamber.However in this design, a splash plate in the combustion chamber containing a solid propellant (cast micrograin known as Densite) seals the liquids in their tanks. Only when the solid propellant is ignited is the oxidizer/fuel allowed to enter the combustion chamber.
  5. No Catalyst is needed to break down the H2O2. One of the main drawbacks of using hydrogen peroxide is the development of a catalyst to break it down into steam and oxygen. In this motor, the hot gas from the solid propellant valve / igniter preheats the chamber. This causes the H2O2 to break down and the energy from the H2O2/kerosene reaction continues to break down the oxidizer. Again no catalyst is needed.
Assembled Rocket Components
On March 28, 2003 this motor was successfully static tested on the Black Rock Desert near Gerlach, NV. This shows the motor on the test stand. The N2 tank used to pressurize the motor is shown on the left side. Motor on the test stand
This shows the rocket being loaded with 9.25 lbs of H2O2/kerosene at a 7.5:1 ratio respectively Loading the liquid oxidizer/fuel     
This is a close up of the rocket on the test stand. A piston can be seen above the motor and was used to measure the thrust produced by the engine.    Close up of the rocket on the test stand
The motor after the burn and the resulting hole in the playa are shown here. No still pictures were obtained during the burn but videos of the test were taken. Rocket motor after the burn

Pressure measurements taken from a video camera provided the following test results:

  1. The motor burned for 10.5 seconds producing 141 pounds of thrust per second.
  2. The total thrust was 1480 pounds. This is equivalent to a mid size “M” motor.
  3. The specific impulse was calculated to be 160 even though a large breach occurred in the motor. Without this breach the specific impulse would have been higher.
   Breach in rocket motor

Future Development

With any small rocket design there is always the question as to whether it can be successfully scaled upward in size. Our present plan for the coming year is to develop an 8” diameter 500 lb/sec throttleable regeneratively cooled motor. The performance of the H2O2/kerosene motors is not trivial producing the highest density impulse of any usable oxidizer/fuel combination. We hope this report will encourage further development among amateur rocket designers.