Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Remember when you were a kid and you would wrap yourself up in foil

  • believing that it made you a space man?

  • Well, aluminum is helping you become a space man... just not in the way you think.

  • Purdue, NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Pennsylvania State University

  • are all working together on a new rocket propellant called ALICE.

  • Not named for anyone's girlfriend or mother,

  • the name ALICE comes from what the propellant is made out of: frozen mixture of water

  • and "nanoscale aluminum" powder. Get it? AL-ICE? Yeah.

  • The idea is that it is even more environmentally friendly than conventional propellants

  • and could be made on other planets or moons that have water.

  • The key to the propellant's performance is the tiny size

  • of the aluminum particles, they have a diameter of about 80 nanometers.

  • The nanoparticles combust much faster than larger particles and enables

  • better control over the reaction and thrust.

  • And the best part?

  • It's pretty much a green propellant,

  • producing hydrogen gas and aluminum oxide as exhaust.

  • For those rocket scientists out there,

  • it works very much like the solid rocket boosters we now have.

  • The mixture starts as a paste and gets molded into a cylinder

  • with a rod in the middle.

  • Then once frozen the rod is removed.

  • During use there is an igniter rocket that sends the hot gasses

  • down the hole where the rod used to be, in order to ignite the propellant evenly.

  • A chemical reaction between the water and aluminum

  • provides the thrust in the ALICE propellant.

  • As the aluminum ignites, the oxygen and hydrogen provided by the water

  • fuels the combustion until all of the aluminum powder is burned.

  • It's being said that ALICE might replace some liquid or solid propellants,

  • and, when perfected, might also have a higher performance.

  • And it's also very safe for transport because while it's frozen

  • it's difficult to accidentally ignite.

  • For more information and to continue the conversation

  • join us at

  • Or join us for our live show this Friday at 2:00 am Coordinated Universal time.

  • Remember to convert to your local time zone

  • or check the Spacvidcast website for details.

Remember when you were a kid and you would wrap yourself up in foil

Subtitles and vocabulary

Click the word to look it up Click the word to find further inforamtion about it