Electrolytic Igniter for Ionic Liquid Monopropellants

Period of Performance: 07/11/2016 - 05/10/2017


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

12173 Montague Street Array
Pacoima, CA 91331
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Some advanced liquid monopropellants provide the unique property of ionic conductivity, which opens the possibility of using electrolysis for ignition. In recent work for the Navy, Ultramet demonstrated electrolytic decomposition of two different ionic liquid monopropellant formulations. The results of those tests were reduced to key design principles that will be used in this project to develop hardware. The design to be pursued is based on a simple, robust fabrication process used in industry for the manufacture of similar devices. Ultramet will produce the hardware and Pennsylvania State University will evaluate the electrolysis units using established techniques. The most important metric for a successful system is achieving the reaction time necessary for divert and attitude control system (DACS) thrusters on missile defense kill vehicles, meaning that propellant ignition must be very fast. To this end, the Penn State tests will focus on designs that enable propellant reactivity at very short time scales.