Aug 27, 2009 | 5
A team from NASA, the military and academia has developed and tested a simple solid rocket fuel of fine-grained aluminum and water ice that the researchers say could provide a cleaner alternative to propellants now in use.
The propellant, known as ALICE (for aluminum and ice), showed its stuff by shooting a nine-foot test rocket a quarter of a mile into the sky this month, according to NASA.
Mitat Birkan, program manager for space power and propulsion at the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, one of the agencies working on the fuel, says that ALICE is more environmentally friendly, before and after burning, than conventional fuel. The only by-products of ALICE combustion, Birkan says, are gaseous hydrogen and relatively innocuous aluminum oxide.
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