Nanotechnologies in propulsion systems NatAs

Due to its nature, nanotechnology operates on quantum physical scales: Depending on their synthesis, their materials have dimensions that are many times smaller than the wavelength of visible light. Their properties are therefore largely determined by their diameter, as the surface properties increasingly influence the functionalities. As a result, nanomaterials differ drastically from their underlying macroscopic bodies.

Nanotechnologies in propulsion systems (NatAs)



2022 – 2024

Fields of applications

  • Environmentally friendly propellants
  • Nanotechnology
Verschiedene Ionanofluide
a) Ionanofluids; b) SEM image of an ionanofluid; c) SEM image of pure nanoparticles

The aim of the NatAs project is not only to generate sustainable knowledge, but also to build a technological bridge between nanotechnology and propulsion-related applications. The aim is to show that nanomaterials can be used profitably for various system areas in propulsion technology and beyond.

As part of NatAs, nanomaterials are produced and characterized as functional materials for propulsion systems and their suitability is evaluated in laboratory tests. It has already been shown that carbon-based 2D materials can measurably influence the physico-chemical properties of new, green propellants. Both the thermal conductivity and the heat capacity of ionic liquids could be adjusted to advantage. In this way, new types of heat transfer fluids are obtained that can function simultaneously as a cooling medium and as a fuel. In initial test series, thiocyanate-based propellants that spontaneously react with hydrogen peroxide in a self-igniting reaction were used for this purpose.

Drip tests in the physical-chemical laboratory
In the individual sequences of a high-speed video, you can see a drip test of the ionic nanofluid with a drop of hydrogen peroxide.


Sophie Ricker

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Space Propulsion
Chemical Propellant Technology
Im Langen Grund, 74239 Hardthausen