Theoretical and Experimental Heat of Combustion Analysis of Paraffin-Based Fuels as Preburn Characterization for Hybrid Rocket

Yash Pal, Anthony Raja, Kavitha Gopalakrishnan


The energy characteristics and theoretical performance of the hybrid rocket fuels are discussed in this paper. Aluminum (Al) and boron (B) metal additives were used to increase the energy density of the paraffin-based solid fuels. To predict the energy characteristics, the heat of combustion was evaluated by adiabatic bomb calorimetry. Theoretical performance parameters such as specific impulse (Isp), flame temperature, and characteristic velocity were obtained with NASA Chemical Equilibrium with Applications (CEA) code. Calorimetric test results revealed that paraffin/polyethylene/boron (P/PE/B)-based fuel formulations exhibited the highest heat of combustion among all the tested fuels. The heat of combustion value of the P/PE/B sample at 25 wt% B loading was found to be 9612 ±16 cal/g and 9293±17 cal/g for the P/PE/Al fuel formulation. The CEA results showed that the addition of Al to paraffin is noneffective in improving specific impulse performance. When B loading increased from 5 to 25 wt% in the P/PE/B, the Isp increased by 47 s compared to pure paraffin. A specific impulse increase implies the possible propellant mass saving. The reduction of the oxidizer and fuel masses may yield increased payload performance for given boundary conditions. The P/PE/B25 formulation has reported the highest value of characteristics velocity (C*) compared to other paraffin-based formulation.


Paraffin wax; Hybrid rocket; Heat of combustion; Specific impulse; Combustion flame temperature

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