Reactive dynamics study of hypergolic bipropellants: Monomethylhydrazine and dinitrogen tetroxide

Yi Liu, Sergey V. Zybin, Jiaqi Guo, Adri C.T. Van Duin, William A. Goddard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


To gain an atomistic-level understanding on physical and chemical processes occurring at the interfaces of hypergolic propellants, we carried out the first reactive dynamic (ReaxFF) simulations to study the reactive hypergolic mixture of monomethylhydrazine (MMH) and dinitrogen tetroxide (NTO), in comparison with the ethanol (EtOH) and NTO mixture that is reactive but nonhypergolic. Our studies show that the MMH-NTO mixture releases energy more rapidly than the EtOH-NTO mixture upon mixing the fuels and oxidizers. We found that the major early chemical reactions between MMH and NTO are hydrogen abstractions and N-N bond scissions. The MMH-NTO mixture has more reaction channels than EtOH-NTO based on statistical analyses of chemical reaction events and channels at early stages of the dynamics. Analyzing the evolution of product distribution over reaction time shows that the oxidizer (NO2) diffuses into the fuels (MMH or EtOH) for the occurrence of reactions, demonstrating the influence of physical mixing on chemical reactions. Our simulations suggest that effective hypergolic systems require fuels with low energy barriers of H abstractions and/or bond scissions and oxidizers with large diffusion mobility for efficient physical mixing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14136-14145
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 6 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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