Russia develops ammonia rocket engine
The new rocket engine, which will be around 30 percent more efficient than existing designs, works on a completely novel fuel mixture of acetylene and ammonia.
Moscow: A leading Russian manufacturer of equipment for power industries has started developing a new rocket engine that could reduce the cost of rocket launches and avoid the need to produce hydrogen for fuel.
The new rocket engine, which will be around 30 percent more efficient than existing designs, works on a completely novel fuel mixture of acetylene and ammonia (called atsetam), its manufacturer Energomash said.
"A mixture of acetylene and ammonia is 20 times cheaper than hydrogen as one kg of hydrogen costs about two thousand rubles ($67) and one kg of atsetam is maximum of 100 rubles ($3.35)," Anatoly Likhvantsev, Energomash`s director of innovative technology, said.
"Using five to seven tonnes of this mixture, we can save a considerable amount of money. In addition, the components that are included in atsetam can be easily stored and transported, whereas hydrogen requires special storage and transportation conditions," he said.
The developers plan to launch rockets with the new engine in 2017-2018, dependent on funding.
Once the optimal ratio of acetylene and ammonia is found, the designers will specify the parameters of the engine.
According to preliminary calculations, the atsetam engine will not require major structural changes to existing rocket motors since the physical properties of atsetam do not differ much from kerosene.
An upper stage with the new engine will be installed on existing rocket carriers, which will be more profitable than developing an entirely new rocket with it.