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Thermal Decomposition Kinetics of Kerosene-based Rocket Propellants. 1. Comparison of RP-1 and RP-2



Jason A. Widegren, Thomas J. Bruno


The decomposition kinetics of the kerosene-based rocket propellants RP-1 and RP-2 was studied. For RP-2, decomposition reactions were performed at 375, 400, 425, and 450 °C. For RP-1, decomposition reactions were only performed at 450 °C because we had previously studied decomposition at 375, 400 and 425 °C. All of the decomposition reactions were performed in stainless steel ampoule reactors. At each temperature, the extent of decomposition as a function of time was determined by analyzing the thermally stressed liquid phase by gas chromatography. These data were used to derive global pseudo-first-order rate constants that approximate the overall rate of decomposition for the fuel. For RP-2, the rate constants ranged from 1.33 x 10-5 s-1 at 375 °C to 5.47 x 10-4 s-1 at 450 °C. The rate constants for the decomposition of RP-1 are not significantly different in that temperature range. One use of these rate constants is for the design and planning of physical property measurements at high temperatures. Based on the amount of time required for 1% of the sample to decompose (t0.01), we found that allowable instrument residence times ranged from 15 min at 375 °C to 0.3 min at 450 °C.
Energy and Fuels


Arrhenius parameters, complex fluids, hydrocarbon mixtures, kerosene fuel, kinetic rate constants, rocket propellant, RP-1, RP-2, thermal decomposition


Widegren, J. and Bruno, T. (2009), Thermal Decomposition Kinetics of Kerosene-based Rocket Propellants. 1. Comparison of RP-1 and RP-2, Energy and Fuels, [online], (Accessed April 22, 2024)
Created September 11, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017