‘More efficient propellents key to bigger payloads’

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on December 16, 2019 Published on December 16, 2019

The Satish Dhawan Space Centre is the largest producer of solid propellants in the country, producing about 2,000 tonnes   -  ISRO

Better means less fuel to carry, says SHAR official

India needs to do research on improving the efficacy of solid propellents that power the first stage of its satellite launch vehicles — PSLV and GSLV.

“A fair amount of efficiency has been achieved in solid propellants but more can be achieved,” said A Rajarajan, Director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre-SHAR, Shriharikota (SDSC).

As the rocket leaves the Earth, gravity is at its highest, and the rocket needs a strong thrust which solid propellents deliver. The rocket, thus, spends 70 per cent of its fuel in the first 80-90 km to escape Earth’s gravity, he said at a seminar. If the efficiency of the solid propellents improves, the quantum of such fuel required will reduce, thereby reducing the overall weight of the launch vehicle. This would mean the rocket can carry a higher pay load.

With many launches planned in the coming years by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), it is important for it to have more R&D in solid propellants, which is the most important component in the launch, he added.

The SDSC is the largest producer of solid propellants in the country, producing nearly 2,000 tonnes, with plans to increase further.

“We are glad to know that industries are coming forward to work in this field,” Rajarajan said at the High Energy Materials Conference and Exhibit hosted by IIT Madras in collaboration with Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, and High Energy Materials Society of India.

High energy materials

The conference is a forum for specialists in high energy materials from all over the world to present the latest progress and developments in the field. MSR Prasad, Director General, Missile and Strategic systems, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said that the DRDO has been actively working in high energy materials for missiles and armament materials. It involves a lot of effort to develop different types of propellants for different types of missiles.

HMRL, Pune, has developed smoke-less, and other types of propellants, including for ‘ramjet’ technology, which is going to be a game-changer for air launch systems. It is for the industry to ensure quality raw materials are applied so that there is high quality in propellants. Focussed R&D has to be carried in this field and DRDO has set up Centres of Excellences in various institutions including IIT Madras and IIT Bombay, he said.

Tamil Nadu Governor, Banwarilal Purohit, inaugurated the event and said that it is important that the scientific fraternity to foster research and innovations. “India, with its sensitive neighbourhood, requires high energy materials such as propellants and explosives to drive national security and technological and scientific prowess,” he added.

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Published on December 16, 2019
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