ISRO is Going Green 

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Science & Techonolgy  ->  Space

Topic :  GS Paper 3 - Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

What is the issue?

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has reported that it is developing a new propellant to be used in powering its satellites and spacecraft.
  • The new propellant is eco-friendly.

Why the Need?

  • The rocket fuel which is being used – hydrazine rocket fuel – is carcinogenic and highly toxic. Also, it is damaging the environment. Thus, the need for a green fuel.

What is the Status?

  • The new environment-friendly propellant is being developed by scientists at Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
  • They have developed a propellant blend based on hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN).
  • Various tests on the HAN-based monopropellant have been carried out to understand its characteristics.
  • The Scientists have studied the thermal and catalytic decomposition and compatibility of the monopropellant with different materials.
  • More tests will be conducted by LPSC before the propellant is put to use.

Monopropellant

  • This is a chemical propulsion fuel.
  • It does not require a separate oxidizer as is the case with the current rocket fuel blends.
  • It is used extensively in satellite thrusters for orbital correction and orientation control.
  • ISRO’s formulation consists of HAN, ammonium nitrate, methanol and water.
  • Methanol reduces combustion instability, AN controls the burn rate and lower the freezing point of the propellant.
  • It is less toxic than hydrazine.
  • HAN is not combustible, hence is safer.