MadSci Network: Astronomy

Re: Could all of the Bicarb and Vinegar on earth blast a rocket to the moon?

Date: Sat Apr 2 20:50:16 2011
Posted By: Artem Evdokimov, Research Scientist
Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 1301770252.As

It's a tricky question.

At first glance, the answer is no. There is not enough energy density in either a solid/liquid rocket based on bicarbonate+acetic acid, or in a rocket carrying liquid CO2 as propellant. So it's not a matter of how much material is available but rather will the rocket built using this material achieve escape velocity. It shouldn't.

However: if the question is formulated broadly enough, then the answer is maybe. Here's why: if we assume that we're allowed to *convert* the energy in bicarbonate/acetic acid system into some other form of chemical energy, then we can build (as unlikely and crazy as it sounds) a power plant based on the reaction of bicarbonate and vinegar, produce electrical energy, and use it to generate something that actually can be rocket fuel (like nitrous/hydrazine or perchlorate/borohydrate, etc.)

Finally, if we're allowed to use bicarbonate and/or vinegar as reactive mass, that is being accelerated by some other means (nuclear reactor, etc.) then we may be able to build a rocket like that -- but there is no reason to use these particular materials as reactive mass since their specific gravity is quite low.

Good luck,

A.G. Evdokimov

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