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Development of bulk catalysts for nitrous oxide decomposition in aerospace applications

Abstract

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is suggested to be a potential monopropellant for micro-thruster applied in satellites as a result of its non-toxicity, self-pressurization, and self-sustaining reaction. This monopropellant has drawn great interests due to its low cost and little hazard in handling. A key-technology for N2O monopropellant decomposition is the development of a catalyst that could be used in the restart conditions in orbit. Thus, a catalyst that can lower the activation energy and increase the N2O decomposition rate is necessary for developing an N2O monopropellant thruster. Therefore, this work aims to develop porous spinel oxides as bulk catalysts able to sustain spontaneous restarts at temperatures below 400°C, without significant activity losses caused by high temperature of N2O decomposition. The structural and electronic properties of the catalysts will be studied by X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy. Finally, a 2 N micro-thruster will be used to evaluate the catalysts performance in continuous and pulsed firings. (AU)

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