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Bacteria help make missile fuel

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posted on Feb, 3 2004 @ 12:07 PM

Scientists have recruited an unusual ally in their quest to produce safer, cheaper rocket fuel: bacteria.
The microbes help make a key ingredient of a fuel mix used in missiles but could also reduce the cost of drugs used to lower cholesterol levels.

The US military commissioned the work after discovering navy chemists were using the cheaper, but more dangerous, chemical nitroglycerine in its place.

Details are published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The conventional manufacture of the propellant butanetriol costs $30 (£16) to $40 (£22) per pound. Together, the Navy and Army purchase about 15,000 pounds (6,803 kg) per year.

Butanetriol is used to make another chemical called butanetriol trinitrate (BTTN) which is employed in the fuel mix of missiles such as the Hellfire, an air-to-ground attack missile fired from military helicopters such as the Apache and unmanned Predator drones.

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