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High-Performance Fuels

Award Information

Department of Defense
Air Force
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2009 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITE
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive Madison, WI -
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2009
Title: High-Performance Fuels
Agency / Branch: DOD / USAF
Contract: FA9300-09-C-2103
Award Amount: $750,000.00


ORBITEC proposes to continue the development of high-performance fuels to replace monomethyl hydrazine (MMH) and other storable fuels for in-space propulsion applications. Compounds from various chemical families were proposed in Phase I to address these needs. These families of compounds have greater heats of formation, lower volatility, and lower toxicity than MMH. Their reduced vapor pressure provides greater safety in handling and less inhalation hazards than MMH. MMH has very low exposure limits due to its toxicity, and is also a suspected carcinogen. This increases the potential hazards during manufacture, transportation, storage, and operation of propulsion systems containing MMH-based fuels. Therefore, a fuel formulation containing a high-energy density, less toxic, non-carcinogenic fuel with lower vapor pressure (reduced inhalation and handling hazards) can significantly reduce the complexity and cost of propulsion systems development and operations. Phase II work will include additional fuel candidate synthesis and laboratory characterization, rocket performance evaluation in a lab-scale thrust chamber, fuel candidate down-select, plans for scale-up synthesis, and conceptual propulsion system designs that use the new fuel. BENEFIT: The end product of this overall research and development program will apply to satellite propulsion and station-keeping, military, civil, and commercial launch systems, as well as potential aerial warfare and tactical surface weapons. Near-term military applications include high-performance storable satellite propulsion including potential monopropellant applications, and high-performance liquid propulsion for target drones, cruise missiles, and other tactical systems. Other applications for these propellants are foreseen that include the kill vehicles for such programs as Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), NMD, Navy Upper Tier Theater Missile Defense (TMD) System, and the MEADS Air Defense System. NASA may find use for this technology in the support of upper stages as well as for in-space propulsion where high-performance storable propellants will offer benefits.

Principal Investigator:

Martin Chiaverini
Principal Propulsion Engi

Business Contact:

Eric E. Rice
President and CEO
Small Business Information at Submission:

Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive Madison, WI 53717

EIN/Tax ID: 391628664
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No