The Brillance of Ingenuity

CFDRC Developing Novel Rocket Propellant Formulation

HUNTSVILLE, AL. November 5, 2012 - CFD Research Corporation (CFDRC) has won a $750k project from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to develop a novel salt based propellant. The objective is to develop and demonstrate a propellant formulation that has improved performance (energy and density) while maintaining low observability and insensitivity.

“There is a continued need for high-energy minimum-smoke propellants for future air-launched and shoulder-fired missiles,” said Dr. Debasis Sengupta, CFDRC’s Principal Investigator. “All of these platforms are intended for use by joint and allied service warfighters to destroy high value stationary, moving, and relocatable land and naval targets. An improved energy / minimum or reduced smoke propellant for these platforms will increase the warfighters' operational flexibility by increasing the stand-off distance and reducing the signature associated with their launch platform.”

In an earlier project, CFDRC demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing a molecular modeling based approach to guide down-selection of the energetic propellant constituents, followed by their synthesis and characterization. Now, CFDRC, along with university and industry partners, are applying this approach to develop improved performance next generation solid propellant ingredients based on energetic salts. The combination of a computational design of materials approach with experimental synthesis and evaluation increase the efficiency, safety, and success rate of the development project.

CFDRC has enlisted ATK as a key partner in this project. Dr. Robert Wardle, director of advanced technologies and products, said, “The innovative use of high-energetic salts in propellant systems offers the potential to create an important technological advancement, which will provide increased performance and handling safety and advance the system for the warfighter.”

At the conclusion of the project, one or more compatible energetic materials will have been demonstrated with improved impulse-density (compared with state-of-the-art performance) while maintaining or improving the smoke signature and insensitive munitions (IM) response.


CFDRC develops and commercializes innovative technologies for government and commercial customers. The company focuses in three areas; Aerospace & Defense, Energy & Materials, and Biomedical & Life Sciences. The multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving including simulation based design combined with prototype manufacturing and experiment validation allows for improved product development cycles. CFDRC was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama.


Richard Thoms
Manager, Technology Partnerships

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