Experimental Studies on Parametric Effects and Reaction Mechanisms in Electrolytic Decomposition and Ignition of HAN Solutions

Dashan Sun, Qiqiang Dai, Wai Siong Chai, Wenjun Fang, Hua Meng

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The green propellant hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN) is a good alternative to the conventional propellants in space propulsion applications because of its low toxicity and high energy density. Electrolytic decomposition and ignition of HAN solution, an ionic liquid, is a promising approach. In this work, comprehensive experimental studies were conducted to examine effects of different electrolytic voltages, electrode surface areas, and HAN concentrations on the decomposition process. In the test cases, an optimum electrolytic voltage appears to exist, which leads to the fastest decomposition process. As the voltage increases, a larger electrode surface area on the anode side should be used to overcome an anodic inhibition phenomenon and accelerate the electrolytic process. A high concentration of HAN solution is preferred for its decomposition and ignition. Results also reveal that the electrolytic process of a HAN solution could eventually trigger thermal decomposition reactions, raising the maximum temperature to around 550 K at the final stage. A detailed chemical reaction mechanism was proposed, based on the experimental data and FTIR spectra analyses. Results obtained herein would provide fundamental understandings on the complex electrochemical and physical processes and should be helpful for future applications of the electrolytic decomposition and ignition technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18521-18530
Number of pages10
JournalACS Omega
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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