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Really cool video, with great experimental footage, chronicling the development of the so-called ALICE (ALuminum and water ICE) solid rocket propellant by a team from Purdue and Penn State. The key to the process is that the metallic aluminum is present as a nano-scale powder, and its oxidation by water thus occurs over a huge surface area and therefore proceeds very quickly, releasing amazing amounts of energy. The video starts with the acoustic mixing of the nano-aluminum with water to make a gray paste which is frozen, in a mold, to make a tubular rocket motor. It then proceeds through various test-bench firings and culminates (at 4:00) in the launch of an actual rocket using the mixture.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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