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This idea came to me when reading about amateur rocket enthusiasts building hydrogen peroxide powered rockets. H2O2 or Hydrogen Peroxide is an unstable molecule, being esientially a water molecule with a extra oxygen atom hanging on. Disturb it and the water molecule will happily fling off that pesky oxygen with considerable energy. The result is about half the energy density of hydrocarbon burning, but the result is just water and oxygen.
ANTING, China (AP) -- The Habo No. 1 looks like any one of the legions of Volkswagen sedans in China. But a peek under the hood reveals an array of chrome canisters instead of the usual engine -- the Habo is fueled not by gas but hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) has been used as rocket propellant, but can also be used to run automobiles. With how well it stores in liquid form, it is perhaps an under-appreciated mechanism for energy storage and fuel. Could possibly find application as a fuel for jet aircraft engines.
Hydrogen peroxide is manufactured today almost exclusively by the autoxidation of 2-ethyl-9,10-dihydroxyanthracene to 2-ethylanthraquinone and hydrogen peroxide using oxygen from the air. The anthraquinone derivative is then extracted out and reduced back to the dihydroxy compound using hydrogen gas in the presence of a metal catalyst. The overall equation for the process is deceptively simple:
For practical background information on the hazards of H2O2, I recommend you read the history and facts behind the August 2000 incident that caused the destruction of the Russian submarine “Kursk” and the death of all its crew. This tragedy was studied and investigated and found to be caused by the Peroxide oxidizer that was used in the Russian torpedoes as a fuel accelerator. This method was well known to USA and British submariners, but had been scrapped because of the risks involved in a Peroxide leak inside a sub. The British submarine, Sidon, sank in 1955 and 13 sailors were lost due to an incident with Peroxide-propelled torpedoes. It was this incident that provoked the Brits and the USA to abandon the use of Peroxide as a powerful booster for torpedoes. The Kursk incident proved the Americans and British to be correct in their risk analysis and pointed directly to the importance of knowing everything there is to know about Peroxide and its handling.
There are some harsh and costly tradeoffs involved in exploiting the oxidative power of H2O2 - once you become knowledgeable in it's history and the tradeoffs, you may not want to proceed with it. I personally feel I can handle H2O2 as a process raw material. However, the steps and methods that I use will be expensive and thoroughly studied, supervised and monitored. Handling H2O2 will, my opinion, be inherently expensive and risky. The risks can be reduced; but they will never be reduced 100%.