the late start of Alchemy Team

the late start of Alchemy Team

Postby Alchemist » Wed Oct 28, 2015 5:31 am

Registered in October 2015, the Alchemy Team took a late start into n-prize competition.

The progress is continuously monitored on https://alchemyteamblog.wordpress.com/ . The Team is open for new members, being rather small for now.

Short summary:
-the vehicle used is a rocket, for simplicity. A rocket is needed anyway to reach the orbiting speed, so we just made things easy. The fuel is sugar and fertilizer, an inovative combination meant to provide between 200 and 220 seconds of specific impulse, instead of classical 160 seconds. First tests will take place in December this year.
-from a couple of very few experiments conducted, a set of cheap sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and altimeter), available for less than 10$ from China is enough for guiding the vehicle. Also a ground radar will illuminate the vehicle all the way. Well, the software for those sensors has to model every particular condition for every stage in order to reach the required precision. More tests will follow by the end of this year.
-the satellite will be a 10 cm diameter white sphere of 19.99 grams. The number of orbits and the altitude will be measured with a telescope. Currently in testing phase.
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Re: the late start of Alchemy Team

Postby SANEAlex » Wed Oct 28, 2015 8:55 pm

Its nice to see a post on the forum I have read the blog and thought I'd flag something up even though i am not absolutely sure about it but just in case. You mention using carbon black instead of sugar IIRC sugar is slightly hydrophilic so at a guess from dimly remembered chemistry the water contained in the sugar both physically and chemically would slow down the speed of reaction due to the high specific heat capacity of water whereas burning carbon with the same amount of oxidiser especially finely ground carbon you might get a more rapid reaction possibly a run away explosion. I think I did see this possibility mentioned somewhere but I can not remember where, solid rocket fuels is not my area of expertise but thought I should flag up a warning just in case your eyebrows are in danger of rapid removal ;-) (or something worse) IIRC rick m on this forum has more expertise in sugar rockets and might be able to inform you if I am on the right lines with my warning after all this is a friendly competition.
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Re: the late start of Alchemy Team

Postby Alchemist » Wed Oct 28, 2015 11:52 pm

Thanks for the input.

I wasn't so clear about the fuel on my blog on purpose, I don't want to be held responsible for any accidents. I also kept older posts alive so that I can trace my progress. I would like to discuss more about it, but so far there are some tests to be done first. I can provide you on PM the details I have now, if you're interested. Detailed discussion about the fuel will always take place in a "closed space" so that I won't be the source of any badly used information.

Both carbon black (Black Powder) and sugar (candy fuel) are used in amateur rocketry, each with its ups and downs. I personally never used Black Powder because it is not as safe as candy fuel. The candy fuel is hygroscopic indeed, but the oxidizer is to blame for it. Anyway it doesn't matter as long as you keep the grains in plastic bags. Otherwise they become slurry, ignite hard and burn even harder if at all. My experience in this field is rather limited as I only made few motors so far and launched much less. Only about a year before I developed a complete technique of making motors from cheap locally available materials, so that I can reliably control their parameters. My experience doesn't compare to that of rick m, that's for sure.
The problem so far is that for candy fuel I used experimental measurements made by Nakka, and published on his site. The new fuel I am working on is pretty much unknown. I will have to do some extra tests too, like the volume variation due to phase change and a both safe and reliable ignition.

So after the hardware needed for casting the fuel arrives I will test:
-ignition by trials, variable size grains in motor case, starting from very small
-volume variation after repeatedly exposing the grain to high and low temperatures, from freezer to hot air gun, assisted by thermometer
-burn rate vs pressure, from pressure-time curve measured with a high pressure manometer connected to the motor
Finally the delivered Isp will decide whether I can go for the launch or not.
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Re: the late start of Alchemy Team

Postby SANEAlex » Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:30 pm

Its Ok as long as you are aware, the replacing sugar with carbon just raised a few of my barely functioning neurons into paranoid warning mode and I thought I'd share just in case.

But you seem to have in hand with plans for testing etc if you are not aware the registers LOHAN project which is also suffering delays has shared openly a lot of what they have been doing and how they have temperature tested solid fuel ignition at various temperatures and pressures if you are not already a fan of the project it might help with ideas and ways of testing kit etc. Link to the overall site below.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/science/lohan/
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Re: the late start of Alchemy Team

Postby Alchemist » Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:32 am

I was planning ignition tests anyway, as ammonium nitrate has problems even at atmospheric pressure. I don't think the fuel in a rocket cools down as much as in a balloon, since it has a much shorter time, but I will compute the heat transfer anyway, just to make sure. I saw the LOHAN approach before, the balloon has its ups and downs, and I think a lot of hidden problems. My opinion is that conventional methods are more reliable than innovations, and I will use them as long as I don't lose much performance.
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Re: the late start of Alchemy Team

Postby Alchemist » Fri Oct 30, 2015 7:46 pm

I updated the blog so that details about the fuel are available now.

As I said there, both materials and information are already publicly available in most countries, so I see no reason why I can't post them there.
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Re: the late start of Alchemy Team

Postby rick m » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:44 pm

Welcome Alchemist, nice to have some others still in the race since it would appear everyone has dropped out...it is rather 'difficult'.

Richard Nakka and I are meeting today and we will be traveling to meet another one of the Sugar Shot to Space team members in the San Diego area to discuss our upcoming 2-stage launch. Not going into space by any means but serving as a test for staging.

Interesting that you have picked ammonium nitrate for most of the oxidizer as we just started testing that this past spring when we got side tracked with a LOX hybrid project. I figured that was the 'fertilizer' you were using since the Isp was higher than we get with KNO3 Have you tried igniting the propellant? We are using some magnesium to aid in ignition/burning. When we get back to testing AN we might try the carbon black. We've used it to cut done on radiant heat transfer through the propellant but always in small <1% amounts.

A friend of mine did some preliminary calcs that showed a 5 or 6 stage sugar rocket could get a small payload in orbit using sorbitol and KNO3 but the amount of propellant would put us over budget for this competition. Besides, we are still working to get a sugar powered rocket to 100km. Not sure where you are located but there is a group in Europe (DARE) that I've helped working with a sugar/paraffin/aluminum hybrid that is also trying for space. They recently launched a rocket but only reached about half of the projected altitude but still have the record for a predominantly sugar fueled rocket (21km).

I will be very interested in your progress since my goal whether we do it or another group, is to see a sugar powered rocket reach space. I wish you success and if I/we can help let us know. I see all these teams come and go and have thought for years the challenge really needs all these people to work together to see this get done. I am also connected with another project with some similarities of the N-Prize comp but without the monetary/weight restrictions and are planning to launch the first tiny satellites in orbit early next year.

Rick

ps Where are you located?
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Re: the late start of Alchemy Team

Postby Alchemist » Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:28 pm

Hi!
I am located in Romania.
I posted more comprehensive information for my fuel on my blog. It is ammonium nitrated mixed with 10% or 8% KNO3 for phase stabilization. The tests will decide the final percentage. About 17% of the fuel will be table sugar and 83% oxidizer. GUIPREP gives estimations up to 218 seconds for the specific impulse at 1000 psi.
Some parts for testing have already arrived, maybe I'll start testing before 1st December this year. I plan to dissolve the components in water, then boil it off at 50-60 Celsius degrees and very low pressure. The resulting paste will be applied with a brush and dried with a hot air gun.
After I cast a phase stabilized fuel I'll measure the pressure variation for one or two firing attempts with KNO3 as initiator. If they don't succeed I'll need some help. I don't have any experience in this field and ammonium nitrate is particularly hard to ignite by itself, from what I heard.
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Re: the late start of Alchemy Team

Postby Jay » Fri Nov 27, 2015 2:06 am

Add my belated welcome to Alchemist and Alchemy Team.

rick m wrote:Welcome Alchemist, nice to have some others still in the race since it would appear everyone has dropped out...it is rather 'difficult'.

Appearances can be misleading. UpStart has definitely not dropped out, but many other completely unrelated matters can be "rather difficult" too!

Onward and upward,

Jay
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Re: the late start of Alchemy Team

Postby rick m » Thu Dec 03, 2015 8:50 am

Jay wrote:
rick m wrote:Welcome Alchemist, nice to have some others still in the race since it would appear everyone has dropped out...it is rather 'difficult'.

Appearances can be misleading. UpStart has definitely not dropped out...


Hi Jay. That's why I said 'it would appear' rather than simply everyone has dropped out. Nice to see you are still in. Rick

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