Publication Date

Summer 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Periklis Papadopoulos


Hybrid, Propulsion, Rocketry

Subject Areas

Aerospace engineering


A concept was developed and tested to enhance the performance and regression rate of hydroxyl terminated polybutadiene (HTPB), a commonly used hybrid rocket fuel. By adding small nodules of paraffin into the HTPB fuel, a non-homogeneous mixture was created resulting in increased regression rates. The goal was to develop a fuel with a simplified single core geometry and a tailorable regression rate. The new fuel would benefit from the structural stability of HTPB yet not suffer from the large void fraction representative of typical HTPB core geometries.

Regression rates were compared between traditional HTPB single core grains, 85% HTPB mixed with 15% (by weight) paraffin cores, 70% HTPB mixed with 30% paraffin cores, and plain paraffin single core grains. Each fuel combination was tested at oxidizer flow rates, ranging from 0.9 - 3.3 g/s of gaseous oxygen, in a small scale hybrid test rocket and average regression rates were measured.

While large uncertainties were present in the experimental setup, the overall data showed that the regression rate was enhanced as paraffin concentration increased. While further testing would be required at larger scales of interest, the trends are encouraging. Inclusion of paraffin nodules in the HTPB grain may produce a greater advantage than other more noxious additives in current use. In addition, it may lead to safer rocket motors with higher integrated thrust due to the decreased void fraction.