How ROCKET FUEL is Different From CAR FUEL


You take a balloon, blow it up, and then let
it go, seeing it smash against every wall of your room. Rockets are actually propelled in a very similar
way, which is totally different from how a car gets moving. Let’s take a look at their respective fuels. Consumers get some choices for cars–gasoline,
diesel, or even natural gas-driven–which all get moving in a similar way. The fuel ‘explodes’, aka ‘combusts’
inside a chamber, and a piston is moved by the force, moving a crankshaft that turns
the up-and-down motion into a spinning motion for the tires. Rockets are a whole different story, but both
rocket and car fuels need something to accept electrons during the burning process, usually
oxygen. So let’s move onto rocket fuel. Rockets work through Newton’s third law;
that is: every action has an equal but opposite reaction. The same goes for flying balloons. In both cases, gas escapes from the nozzle,
providing an equal but opposite force in the opposite direction and propelling the rocket
or balloon. Something as massive as a rocket needs a bit
of firepower to get going, though. A Rocket’s fuel may actually be gasoline,
diesel, or natural gas–anything that explodes, really–but there are better alternatives
and more advanced methods. The three most popular types of rocket fuel
are solid fuel, liquid fuel, and hybrid fuel. Let’s take a look at solid fuels. Some early rockets with solid fuel actually
used gunpowder. Now, interestingly enough, synthetic rubbers
are used as solid fuels in rockets. The synthetic rubbers, which are similar in
makeup to natural rubber, are made with oxidizers that speed up combustion. Now for liquid fuels. Early liquid fuel for rockets was gasoline,
but now ethyl alcohol, liquid oxygen, and kerosene fuels are used, as well as liquid
hydrogen fuel, which is the most efficient. The 1967 apollo spacecraft actually used liquid
fuel and consumed over 950,000 gallons of it during flight! Finally, there are hybrid fuels. Hybrid Fuels combine synthetic rubber from
solid-fueled rockets with liquid fuels, usually oxidizers like liquid oxygen or nitrous oxide. The advantage here is that the burning of
the solid fuel can be controlled through the release of the liquid fuel. Of course, there are even newer ways to power
rockets, like nuclear, electric, ion, or photon propulsion, yet the main difference between
rocket and car fuels lies in cost, weight, and energy.