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  English.dicp.cas.cn    Posted:2013-05-09
Energy, space propulsion and catalysis: An exciting adventure

Time:2013.5.9  15:00

Location:No.1 Meeting Room of National Laboratory For Clean Energy (No.1building)

Prof. Charles Kappenstein

Laboratory of Catalysis ,University of Poitiers (France)


Short historical survey

Catalysis was associated to propulsion just before WWII in Germany: decomposition of H2O2 through liquid injection of permanganate salts. The first applications were: assisted take-off units for planes; V1 catapult; V2 turbo-pump gas generator, torpedo and submarine propulsion. After WWII, the UK Black Knight rocket program associated kerosene with H2O2 and silver screens as catalyst.

Catalytic decomposition of hydrazine and hydrazine substitutes

During the late fifties, the start of the space program led to the replacement of unstable H2O2 by more stable but more toxic hydrazine N2H4, using newly developed Ir/Al2O3 catalysts. Now, hydrazine substitutes are part of "green propulsion": (i) energetic ionic mixtures; (ii) highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide (90-98 wt.-%); and (iii) nitrous oxide N2O(g).

Other applications

- Hybrid engines: the oxidizer burns a solid fuel.

- Hypergolic bipropellants: the direct mixture of oxidizer and fuel burns spontaneously.

- Scramjet (Supersonic Combustion Ramjet) and air-breathing pulse detonating engines (PDE).

- Catalytic ignition of cryogenic H2-O2 mixtures.

- Catalyst as burn rate modifier for solid propulsion.

- Chemical micropropulsion for micro or nano satellites to replace current electric propulsion.


Born 1946 in Lorraine (France)

Master of Sciences (Chemistry): University of Strasbourg, 1968

Assistant Professor: University of Reims, 1968-1981;

Ph.D. 1977, University of Reims.

Post-doc, 1978: Technische Universität, München, Garching, by Prof. E.O. Fischer

Associate Professor, University of Poitiers, 1982-1991

Post Doc, 1985: Ludwig Maximilian Universität, München, by Prof. Helmut Knözinger:

Professor, University of Poitiers, 1992-


²  Prize of the Coordination Chemistry Division of the French Chemical Society (1981)

²  Honor Professor of  the University 'A; I. Cuza', Iasi, Romania, in 2003

²  Honor Medal of the University P.J. Safarik, Kosice, Slovakia, in 2003

Contact:1502 Hui Sun(9161)



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