Jakusz SpaceTech has won a European Space Agency tender under the General Support Technology Programme (GSTP) to investigate the compatibility of highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide (HTP) with materials used in the space sector.
Hydrogen peroxide, also known as “3% hydrogen peroxide-based solution” or perhydrol, is a substance with very wide applications in many industries. However, only in very high concentrations – on the order of 90% to 98% – and with a high purity class, can it be used as a rocket fuel oxidizer or single-component rocket propellant. The current commonly used compound for this purpose is hydrazine, which is a highly noxious, toxic and flammable liquid, and at same time difficult to use. Current global trends involving the search for ecological and environmentally friendly solutions, have resulted in increased interest in hydrogen peroxide as an alternative to hydrazine.
Under the influence of an appropriately selected catalyst, hydrogen peroxide decomposes only into oxygen and water, releasing a large amount of gases. And although it is very pure and highly concentrated with the addition of special stabilizers, it is a relatively stable liquid, it is very sensitive to high temperature and contamination – especially metallic. As a result of contact with certain materials such as iron, steel or titanium, it may undergo accelerated decomposition. In addition, hydrogen peroxide as a corrosive and strongly oxidizing compound, can cause corrosion and degradation of some materials, especially plastics and rubber.
The project will examine the effect of highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide on a number of specialized materials used in the space industry, which are used to manufacture tanks, pipelines or seals. Among other things, we will check whether the material undergoes corrosion, whether its mechanical properties change, and whether peroxide stability is adversely affected.
A number of tests have also been planned for the safe storage and use of hydrogen peroxide. Among them will be the influence on its stability of such factors as: radioactive radiation that may occur in space; vibrations and oscillations occurring during the operation of a rocket engine; contaminants that may get into the liquid by “washing” them out of the material.