In support of a Phase II SBIR project awarded to Ogden Engineering & Associates (OE&A), of Tucson Arizona, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (NGAS) has successfully demonstrated repeatable spontaneous ignition of an experimental Hypergolic Green Fuel (HGF) with Nitrogen Tetroxide (NTO) oxidizer. The HGF formulation is based on an ionic, green fuel created by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards AFB. HGF is a proprietary ionic propellant formulation developed by OE&A and the HGF project team including the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and NGAS. This development effort is being supported by Missile Defense Agency, the Space and Missile Defense Technical Center as the technical monitor, and Raytheon Missile Systems. The relatively high density fuel has a low vapor pressure, reducing handling hazards and costs when compared with conventional hypergolic fuels.
Testing was performed at the NGAS Capistrano Test Site (CTS) to demonstrate open-air spontaneous ignition and measure ignition delays at various temperatures. A test sequence showing oxidizer lead, clean burn and fuel rich spray along with an image of a fuel-rich burn is presented below. A significant finding was that no fuel preheat was required to obtain successful ignition as long as the reactor walls were heated. This simplifies engine hardware and design for future testing.
The next step is small scale engine testing scheduled for later this year. Virtually all aerospace related propulsion systems can benefit from development of hypergolic green fuels including commercial, NASA and DoD satellites, rockets and missile system upper stages. These HGF systems offer the same pulsing and throttling capability as conventional liquid propellants, but are safer and more operationally efficient because they are non-toxic. Because they can be controlled much more easily than a solid rocket and exhibit higher performance than solids, HGF engines permit greater maneuverability of kill vehicles while minimizing propellant weight.
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