Author Topic: EPA Now Looking at Shuttle SRB Perchlorate Oxidizer--again...  (Read 16810 times)

Offline Warren Platts

One dimension of advantages and disadvantages that ought to be discussessed, but are not for some reason are environmental considerations. Ideally, one would like a rocket that produced non-toxic, carbon-neutral exhaust. In which case, wind-derived H2/LOX wins hands down.

No, it does not win. Look up how hydrogen for the rockets is produced. If someone starts complaining about rocket propellants, they ought to start with airliners first. They burn less refined kerosene anyway.

Does it have to be produced that way? EG if a hydrogen economy takes off, why not use that source instead? (I know we're talking about a lot of volume).

cheers, Martin
This came up in one of the Augustine threads. I just found this:  as of August 18, 2009, the EPA is looking at perchlorates again, and are asking for public comments. So I thought I would split the topic into a separate thread--especially since the environment seems to be the least important concern of the Augustine Committee.

Perchlorates are mainly used in fireworks, flares--and rocket propellant. If sustainability is a desirable goal, it is clear that we need to get away from perchlorates. Some day, if things don't change, someone will sue NASA, and then a judge will rule that perchlorates violate the National Clean Drinking Water Act, and then a moratorium will be placed on all perchlorate based spaceflight out of the  USA. The warnings have been out; so it will not come as a complete surprise when this happens. That is, there will be plenty of people around saying "I told you so". But it could cause an unplanned-for kink in our plans that could cost several tens of billions, and delay things for years, as a brand new system is engineered. The reliance on perchlorates is argulably a big red flag on the whole Ares concept. Opponents of Ares should use the perchlorate issue to their advantage--as long as they have greener options in their back pocket.

What do you think? Should the EPA regulate perchlorates? Should SRB's use perchlorates? Are there decent, green alternatives? Does DIRECT use perchlorates?
« Last Edit: 08/22/2009 06:03 pm by Warren Platts »
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Offline robertross

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Another reason why Atlas V phase II/III is making more and more sense.

If anything, we would see a waiver allowed for a phase-out of perchlorates altogether, noting the desire of the adminstration to allow for a transition period.

And yes, the Jupiter rockets would naturally have perchlorates in the SRBs (69.6%)...they use existing shuttle stack components. There would naturally be the same phase-in period allowed (by Act of congress of course) if they deem it necessary.

Offline tamarack

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While we're banning Shuttle SRBs, why not junk all the SRBs using perchlorate. DoD would love that :p

Offline Warren Platts

Doesn't Atlas V still use solid strap-on solid fuel boosters?

Delta-IV is the greenest rocket because not only does it avoid perchlorates, it's LH2/LOX first stage is potentially CO2 neutral, depending on how the LH2 is produced.

Could it be that environmental concerns influenced the choice of design for military planners who know that they cannot afford to be hamstrung by onerous environmental regulations?
« Last Edit: 08/22/2009 07:28 pm by Warren Platts »
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline grdja

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Well, DOD's big SRM rockets generaly dont do a lot of flying. And if those birds do take off, it is very likely you will have much greater problems on your hands to worry about perchlorates.

Yes if this was pushed it would be end of Shuttle and all SDLVs. And if you are changing to liquid boosters, you might as well go and develop a kerlox first stage and dump all shuttle infrastructure.

Offline kch

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Doesn't Atlas V still use solid strap-on solid fuel boosters?

It does ... so does Delta IV (Medium+, and possible future use for Heavy+).

Offline robertross

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Doesn't Atlas V still use solid strap-on solid fuel boosters?

It does ... so does Delta IV (Medium+, and possible future use for Heavy+).

But NOT Atlas V Phase II/III  !!!!
They are all liquid boosters.

Offline Warren Platts

Quote from: grdja
Yes if this was pushed it would be end of Shuttle and all SDLVs. And if you are changing to liquid boosters, you might as well go and develop a kerlox first stage and dump all shuttle infrastructure.
Frankly, I'm surprised that opponents of the whole Constellation concept have not worked this lever for what it's worth.--or that ULA or SpaceX haven't touted their designs for their relative "greeness".
« Last Edit: 08/22/2009 07:50 pm by Warren Platts »
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline sdsds

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Could it be that environmental concerns influenced the choice of design [for EELV]?

Lots of things can ground launch systems, environmental concerns being one.  So yes, if perchlorate from SRM exhaust grounds vehicles using solids the Air Force can rely on Delta IV-Heavy for assured access to space.  Giving credit where it's due:  the Air Force plan to fund two competing EELV launch systems cost more, but what they got in return was better availability based on the diversity inherent in the two systems. 
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Offline kch

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... if perchlorate from SRM exhaust grounds vehicles using solids the Air Force can rely on Delta IV-Heavy for assured access to space.

They'd be SOL on ICBMs, though, wouldn't they?  Minuteman and Trident are both solids.  Think they'd go back to hypergolics?

Offline Jorge

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... if perchlorate from SRM exhaust grounds vehicles using solids the Air Force can rely on Delta IV-Heavy for assured access to space.

They'd be SOL on ICBMs, though, wouldn't they?  Minuteman and Trident are both solids.  Think they'd go back to hypergolics?

No, they'd tell the EPA to frack off, and they'd win. Like the man said, if those Minutemen and Tridents get launched for real, a little perchlorate contamination is the least of our concerns.
JRF

Offline tamarack

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No, they'd tell the EPA to frack off, and they'd win. Like the man said, if those Minutemen and Tridents get launched for real, a little perchlorate contamination is the least of our concerns.

Might have to include some Surface/Air-to-Air missiles, rocket-assisted artillery, LV upper stages, etc in a perchlorate witch-hunt.

Offline Warren Platts

Yeah, well, they also still use depleted uranium. It's one thing to use toxic chemical solid fuels for launching nuclear weapons payloads; it's quite another to use toxic rocket fuel for routine, peace-time launches, whether the payloads are military or civilian in nature.
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Offline sdsds

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Yeah, well, they also still use depleted uranium. It's one thing to use toxic chemical solid fuels for launching nuclear weapons payloads; it's quite another to use toxic rocket fuel for routine, peace-time launches, whether the payloads are military or civilian in nature.

An unarmed Minuteman III strategic missile is scheduled for launch from Vandenberg AFB tomorrow morning.  This is a routine, peace-time launch.  Regular launches of this type are seen as necessary to maintain operational readiness.  They assert the environmental impacts are part of the price we pay for our freedom.
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Offline Jim

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Delta-IV is the greenest rocket because not only does it avoid perchlorates, it's LH2/LOX first stage is potentially CO2 neutral, depending on how the LH2 is produced.


It is not the greenest.
H2 is produced from methane or natural gas.  Electrolysis would still require electricity which mostly comes from carbon burning power plants

Offline randomly

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You should also weigh the cost of finding perchlorate alternatives. The amount of money required might be vastly out of proportion to the environmental benefits. The environment would probably benefit much more by spending that money in other areas such as scrubbers for coal powerplants, or research on molten salt reactors.

Offline Warren Platts

Delta-IV is the greenest rocket because not only does it avoid perchlorates, it's LH2/LOX first stage is potentially CO2 neutral, depending on how the LH2 is produced.


It is not the greenest.
H2 is produced from methane or natural gas.  Electrolysis would still require electricity which mostly comes from carbon burning power plants

I'm sure you're quite right about current LH2 production not being the greenest process; however, NASA or UAL could buy wind energy contracts for electrolysis of hydrogen--like the New Belgium Brewery in Colorado.

http://www.newbelgium.com/sustainability
« Last Edit: 08/23/2009 03:24 pm by Warren Platts »
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline kevin-rf

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I'm surprised you didn't say "NASA should install a giant Solar Plant to create its own LH". Telling someone to use a more expensive option because it is more politically correct is "Not an Option".

As much as I would like to see fossil fuels go the way of the Dodo, and not because of this greenhouse gas stuff. But because of the utter devastation mountain top removal does on the land (coal) and utter devastation NOX's from cars do on our lungs in urban areas. Heck with the green house gas issue, the issue is the air we breathe and the sludge ponds we create.  In that environment, reforming of natural gas to make H2 is benign.
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Offline kevin-rf

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Some fuel for the fire :

http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?ContentBlockID=b0fbfe1d-552c-466e-b879-6a338441c0ef&


Quote
NASA, AFOSR Test Environmentally-Friendly Rocket Propellant

Mon, 24 Aug '09
Fuel Theoretically Could Be Manufactured On The Moon Or Mars

NASA and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, or AFOSR, have successfully launched a small rocket using an environmentally-friendly, safe propellant comprised of aluminum powder and water ice, called ALICE.
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Offline gospacex

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I vaguely remember that ammonium nitrate is a cleaner alternative with Isp 10 seconds less.

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