This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001. Latest version can be found at GOX/Alcohol

Oxidiser: GOX. Oxidiser Freezing Point: -219.00 deg C. Oxidiser Boiling Point: -183.00 deg C. Oxidiser.Comments: Gaseous oxygen is used as an oxidiser in Russian thrusters for orbital maneuvering and orientation. It is a by-product of liquid oxygen, used in the main engine, and slowly boiling off over time.
Fuel: Alcohol. Fuel Density: 0.87 g/cc. Fuel Freezing Point: -114.00 deg C. Fuel Boiling Point: 78.00 deg C.

Alcohol (C2H5OH) was the fuel used for the German V-2 rocket, and the first derivative rocket engines in the United States, Soviet Union, and China used it as well. Better performance was achieved by increasing the alcohol concentration in the post-war engines. But after better-performance rocket-grade kerosene was developed by Rocketdyne in the REAP program of 1953, use of alcohol was abandoned. Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, has wide commercial uses in both the chemical and the spirits industries and is produced commercially in large quantities. It is a clear, water-white, mobile liquid with the characteristic alcohol odour. It is an excellent solvent; special lubricants must be used. Materials of construction used for methanol are also used for ethanol. Like methanol, ethanol forms explosive mixtures with air or with oxidisers. Denaturants added to the alcohol can cause poisoning, blindness, and death. (Despite this, the Russians liked to call their early missiles 'drunk rockets'. Ethyl alcohol is produced by fermentation of sugars (glucose) or hydrolysed starches. The majority of the ethyl alcohol for solvent use is made by the hydrolysis of ethyl sulphate, which results from the addition of sulphuric acid to ethylene. Ethyl alcohol forms an azeotrope with water; this solution is 95.6 per cent ethyl alcohol. Absolute alcohol is made by azeotropic distillation with benzene. The estimated 1959 United States production was 1.6 million tonnes (50 per cent by volume). The price of absolute alcohol, tax-free, in tank-car quantities was $ 0.16 per kg. Density varies: 0.87 g/cc for 75% alcohol; 0.80 g/cc for 92.5% alcohol; to 0.79 g/cc for 96% alcohol.

Engines Using GOX/Alcohol

Eng-engineslink Thrust(vac)-kgf Thrust(vac)-kN Isp-sec Isp (sea level)-sec Designed for Status
RDMT-2600 265 2.60 270   Upper Stages Developed 1980's

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Last update 3 May 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .