Skip navigation


Hypergolic Propellants Laboratory

The Hypergolic Propellants Lab's research focuses on hypergolic propellant ignition and combustion through system level testing and advanced diagnostic techniques. A major emphasis is on novel hypergolic propellant combinations.

Resulting ignition after a drop of NTO contacts a pool of MMH, 1/30 playback speed

Drop Tests

This setup performs drop tests with Mixed Oxides of Nitrogen at pressures up to 100 psia. We control the oxidizer's temperature using a cooling system that allows for tests at pressures lower than the vapor pressure of the oxidizer used. This setup is currently used to investigate the reactivity and hypergolicity of solid and liquid additives with Nitrogen Tetroxide and MON-25.

A Drop TestAnother drop test
Drop tests with MON-25 and various additives

Drop test performed in open air with NTO
Drop test performed with MMH and NTO

Glove Box Characteristics

  • Variable chamber pressure (up to 100 psia) supported
  • Temperature-controlled oxidizer (down to -20°C)
  • Nitrogen-purged dry box handles moisture/air sensitive compounds
  • Optically accessible acrylic test environment

Hypergolic Drop Test Physical Setup

Current glove box configuration

Impinging Jet System

This setup provides highly repeatable electromechanically controlled tasks for the characterization of hypergolic ignition events and steady state analyses. The system has an array of nozzle and orifice inserts to provide variable mass flows and pressures. A programmable pulse mode is included for added versatility. Future plans include adding laser exhaust probing (PIV) to resolve specific impulse. Both atmospheric and pressurized combustion chambers (both optically accessible) are available to simulate diverse test environments. Four total configurations can be used: doublet/pressurized chamber, doublet/atmospheric chamber, triplet/pressurized chamber, triplet/atmospheric chamber. 

Triplet injector is used for high O/F tests/operations. This configuration is used so that two streams of oxidizers impinge directly, canceling their momentum, while a fuel stream impinges from above. This keeps all momentum axial and improves mixing capabilities. 


  • 60° angle of injection system with max injection velocity of 160 ft/s 
  • Linearly actuated to provide ~3 ms to steady state injection conditions
  • Measures ignition delay and combustion efficiency
  • Max chamber pressure of 200 psi over a 3 second firing duration
  • Testing with NTO via actively cooled propellant tanks and injectors 
  • Capture and dilute all exhausts/combustion products safely
Impinging Jet System Chart
Command and true velocity profiles of three tests

Impinging Jet System, doublet with atmospheric combustion chamber configuration
Impinging Jet System, triplet with atmospheric combustion chamber configuration


NTO & MMH with Streak Camera