Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sugar + Science = Liftoff

= Combustalicioius!

Popular Science documents the practice of fueling model rockets with sugary food -- specifically Oreo fillings.

The energy in food is typically released when, through a complex
biochemical pathway, sugars, starches and fats react with oxygen from
the lungs. It’s a form of slow-motion burning that, thankfully, rarely
involves fire.

But you can liberate the same amount of energy in much less time by
mixing the Snickers with a more concentrated source of oxygen—say, the
potent oxidizer potassium perchlorate. The result is basically rocket
fuel. Ignited on an open fireproof table, it burns vigorously,
consuming an entire candy bar in a few seconds with a rushing tower of
fire. If you could bottle the energy of kids playing and turn it into a
Molotov cocktail, this is what it would look like.

Of course, you can’t actually fire a rocket with a Snickers
bar; the nuts would clog the nozzle. Oreo cookie filling, however,
works very nicely in standard model-rocket engines. (Caution: The Model
Rocket Safety Code does not approve of filling rocket motors with
highly reactive chlorate-Oreo mixtures.)

Link via Makeblog

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