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January 19, 2012 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-01-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


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Tickets a iailable at dia.org or 313.833.4005.

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DETROIT
INSTITUTE
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18 January 19 . 2012

Technion professor discusses
the latest in rocket propellants.

Contributing Writer

Find info on these and other events at www.dia.org

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Defending Israel

all Benny Natan a rocket
scientist, and he'll probably
correct you. The professor
and head of the Missile Propulsion
Laboratory at Technion: Israel
Institute of Technology refers to him-
self in simpler terms.
"I'm a pyromaniac:' he told a small
but rapt group of mostly retired
engineers at the American Technion
Society in Farmington Hills on Jan
12."I enjoy fires, and the people who
deal with propulsion, most of them are
pyromaniacs, too."
Natan, born in Salonika, Greece, in
1954, made aliyah and entered directly
into Technion when he was 18.
Now he lords over 26 fellow pyro-
maniacs in developing rocket propel-
lants that will help defend Israel.
Natan was near the end of a six-city
swing through the United States when
he stopped in Detroit to talk about his
studies and give a short lesson on gel
propellants, ramjets and rocket sci-
ence.
"Propellant is actually the material
that propels the missile or the air-
plane he said.
Until recently only solid or liquid
propellant existed, and each had
advantages and drawbacks.
"Solid propellant is low cost, simple
and reliable, and is like baking a cake

he said. "Take some liquid plastic,
add some oxidizer, add something
that increases the burning rate and
mix it together. Put it in an oven at
350 degrees for a week or so, and it's
ready."
But once you ignite it, it cannot be
extinguished and restarted. And there
are safety problems during storage.
With liquid propellants, the fuel and
oxidizer are kept in separate tanks.
The performance is very good,
and the thrust can be regulated and
stopped in the middle of the burn, but
the system is complex and costly.
A gel propellant is basically a liquid
with a gelling agent. It has the advan-
tages of both solid and liquid propel-
lant with few of the drawbacks. It
stores like a solid, "like Jell-0," he said.
Gel propellant also has uses outside
of defense. It could be developed to
transport other liquids, like oil. "The
Exxon Valdez spill could have been
cleaned up easier, had it been mixed
with gel: he said.
The gel propellant he is developing
is used in ramjet engines, which can
be described as "flying pipes!'
Air comes into the engine, the fuel
is added, and the thermal energy is
transformed into kinetic energy, and
then thrust comes out of the nozzle.
"We can design a missile that is
very efficient, reach a target that is in
strategic range with a tactical size,' he
said.

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