An experimental study on the hypergolic interaction between monomethylhydrazine and nitric acid

S. Q. Wang, S. T. Thynell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The hypergolic interactions between monomethylhydrazine (MMH, CH3NHNH2) and various forms of nitric acid were studied by several different experimental techniques. High-speed videos were acquired to visualize the pre-ignition, ignition and post-ignition events when a fuel drop impinged on a pool of nitric acid. A three-stage process was identified in the temperature profiles obtained from drop tests using Al2O3 coated fine-wire thermocouples placed in both the liquid-phase and gas-phase regions. The temperature rose rapidly from ambient levels to the boiling point in the first stage, from the boiling point to 280°C relatively slowly in the second stage and from 280°C to a flame temperature very rapidly in the third stage. The gaseous species evolved from reactions between MMH and nitric acid in these three stages were probed by a confined-interaction setup, in conjunction with rapid-scan Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ToFMS). The first stage involved liquid-phase reactions which formed the ionic compound monomethylhydrazinium nitrate (MMH·HNO3), as well as oxidation products methyl nitrate (CH3ONO2), methyl azide (CH3N3), N2O, H2O and N2. The second stage involved the formation of an aerosol cloud which was mainly composed of monomethylhydrazinium nitrate. The third stage involved rapid gas-phase reactions leading to ignition. These third-stage reactions were initiated by the thermal decomposition of nitric acid, and the identified species in this stage include H2O, HONO, CH3ONO2, CH3ONO, CH3N3, CH3OH, CH3NH2, CH4, N2O, NO, N2, and small amounts of HNCO, NH3, HCN and CO2. Some important pre-ignition reactions are proposed for both liquid and gas phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-447
Number of pages10
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'An experimental study on the hypergolic interaction between monomethylhydrazine and nitric acid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this