Rocket fuels

A chemical decision

Good fuels burn in oxygen to release a great deal of heat and produce gaseous products. As the chemical engineer of the Australian Space Program you are asked to select a fuel for the Australian Space Shuttle. You are given the following data.

5 grams of each fuel was tested by burning in pure oxygen

Fuel “A” is a solid which spontaneously combusts in the presence of oxygen. In the absence of pure oxygen fuel “A” is extremely stable.

Fuel “B” does not react with oxygen in the air, however in the presence of a catalyst, it reacts violently producing carbon dioxide and water vapour. It’s boiling point is –10C, it is very corrosive and must be stored as a liquid

Fuel “C” is spontaneously combustible when mixed with oxygen. It reacts readily with air to form an explosive mixture of gases. It is safe when stored at -100C.

Examine the data carefully. Decide which is the best fuel for the Orbiter and in a report to your Boss state your reasons why you have selected this particular fuel and why you eliminated the others.
1) A fellow scientist turns to you and says “The fuels used in rockets must undergo EXOTHERMIC reactions when combined with oxidisers”. Do you agree? Research what is an exothermic reaction and an oxidiser and offer an explanation

2) What is a catalyst? Does it have any special properties?