Chemistry: Ion Synthesis Makes Better Rocket Fuels

What every rocket designer wants for Christmas is a new and better fuel so that his birds can blast off with extra energy. What every chemical engineer in the business is trying to do is play Santa Claus.

Precision Collision. The standard method for synthesizing high-energy chemical fuels is to mix the ingredients and heat them. The heated molecules move faster, and a few of them move so fast that when they collide they stick to each other, creating new compounds with built-in energy. Instead of this haphazard system, says Vice President Milton...

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