Metallic Hydrogen: The Most Powerful Rocket Fuel Yet To Exist

DSpace/Manakin Repository

Metallic Hydrogen: The Most Powerful Rocket Fuel Yet To Exist

Citable link to this page


Title: Metallic Hydrogen: The Most Powerful Rocket Fuel Yet To Exist
Author: Silvera, Isaac F.; Cole, John W.

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Silvera, Isaac F. and John W. Cole. 2010. Metallic hydrogen: The most powerful rocket fuel yet to exist. In International Conference on High Pressure Science and Technology, Joint AIRAPT-22 & HPCJ-50 : [proceedings] : 26-31 July 2009, Tokyo, Japan. Journal of Physics Conference Series 215(1): 012194.
Full Text & Related Files:
Abstract: Wigner and Huntington first predicted that pressures of order 25 GPa were required for the transition of solid molecular hydrogen to the atomic metallic phase. Later it was predicted that metallic hydrogen might be a metastable material so that it remains metallic when pressure is released. Experimental pressures achieved on hydrogen have been more than an order of magnitude higher than the predicted transition pressure and yet it remains an insulator. We discuss the applications of metastable metallic hydrogen to rocketry. Metastable metallic hydrogen would be a very light-weight, low volume, powerful rocket propellant. One of the characteristics of a propellant is its specific impulse, \(I_{sp}\). Liquid (molecular) hydrogen-oxygen used in modern rockets has an Isp of \(\sim460s\); metallic hydrogen has a theoretical \(I_{sp}\) of 1700s! Detailed analysis shows that such a fuel would allow single-stage rockets to enter into orbit or carry economical payloads to the moon. If pure metallic hydrogen is used as a propellant, the reaction chamber temperature is calculated to be greater than 6000 K, too high for currently known rocket engine materials. By diluting metallic hydrogen with liquid hydrogen or water, the reaction temperature can be reduced, yet there is still a significant performance improvement for the diluted mixture.
Published Version: doi:10.1088/1742-6596/215/1/012194
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at
Citable link to this page:
Downloads of this work:

Show full Dublin Core record

This item appears in the following Collection(s)


Search DASH

Advanced Search