Propellants are used in the production of pressurized gas or energy. The gas or energy is then used to propel a vehicle, projectile, or other objects. The most common propellant is fuel, whether it be gasoline, jet fuel, rocket fuel, etc. When propellants are decomposed or burned, they release the propellant gas. Some propellants are liquids that can be vaporized. Propellant gas, or exhaust, propels object forward by using a chemical reaction or combustion which increases its pressure.
Exhaust may be in the form of a gas, liquid, or plasma and before the chemical reaction, it may be a solid, liquid, or gel. But most propellants are either solid or liquid because they have a useful density for storage. Aircraft most often use a high-pressure air from the compressor, mix it with fuel, and burn it in the combustion chamber to produce the exhaust.
Oxidizers are required to burn fuel. Most of the time, something may be burned with oxygen (an oxidizer) but because there isn’t any in space, they have to carry their own oxidizers. Oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, and halogens are the most common oxidizing agents. Oxidizers speed up the development and intensity of fire, cause material that cannot be burned in air easily to burn rapidly, and can cause certain materials to combust spontaneously without an obvious ignition source. Because of their innate properties, oxidizing materials need to be handled with the utmost care to prevent any severe fires or explosions. The National Fire Protection Association has classified the oxidizers chemical from Class 1- Class 4; the higher the classification, the more sensitive the material is to spontaneous combustion and increased burning rates.
Propellants are commonly associated with transportation applications; however, they are also utilized in firearms, artillery, rockets, and the least intimidating application in aerosols. No matter what their application is, they need to be handled properly and all safety procedures need to be followed to prevent the risk of fires and explosions.
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