Effect of metal sequestrants on the decomposition of hydroxylammonium nitrate

Emil J. Broemmelsiek, Joshua L. Rovey, Steven P. Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN) is an energetic salt used in flight-proven green monopropellants such as ASCENT (formerly AF-M315E), flown in NASA’s 2019 Green Propellant Infusion Mission, and SHP163, flown in JAXA’s Rapid Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-1. The decomposition of HAN is catalyzed by metals commonly found in storage tanks, a factor limiting its use. This work investigates the ability of metal-sequestering chelating agents to inhibit the decomposition of HAN. Isothermal and dynamic thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) were used to find isothermal decomposition rates, decomposition onset temperatures, and first-order Arrhenius reaction rate parameters. In the present research, 2,2′-bipyridine (Bipy), triethanolamine (TEA), and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) were studied as 0.05, 0.1, 0.5, 1, and 5% by weight additives in 90% aqueous HAN. An isothermal decomposition rate of 0.137%/h at 348 K was observed for HAN. The addition of 1% Bipy and 1% TEA reduced the isothermal decomposition rate by 20.4% to 0.109%/h, and by 3.65% to 0.132%/h, respectively, showing that Bipy can inhibit decomposition. The addition of 1% EDTA increased the isothermal decomposition rate by 12.4% to 0.154%/h. Bipy was found to increase the decomposition onset temperature from 454.8 K to 461.8 K, while the results for TEA and EDTA were inconclusive. First order reaction rates calculated by the Ozawa-Flynn-Wall method were found to be insufficient to capture the effects of the tested additives. Bipy was found to inhibit the decomposition of HAN, while TEA and EDTA produced little or negative effect, a result believed to be due to poor metal complex stability at low pH and high acidity, respectively. Spectrophotometry, used for colorimetric analysis of Bipy+iron complexes, showed that Bipy forms chelate complexes with trace iron impurities when added to HAN solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1488
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Alternative green propellant
  • Chelating agents
  • Hydroxylammonium nitrate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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