"Theoretical Performance of Diborane as a Rocket Fuel"

Vearl N. Huff, Clyde S. Calvert, and Virginia C. Erdmann
Flight Propulsion Research Laboratory
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)
Predecessor to NASA


....            Actual size is 11 x 8.5-inches

Theoretical Performance of Diborane as a Rocket Fuel

Vearl N. Huff, Clyde S. Calvert, and Virginia C. Erdmann
Flight Propulsion Research Laboratory, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)
Predecessor to NASA

A comprehensive, detailed study of the high-performance rocket fuel diborane (B2H6), an unusual chemical that has very high energy per unit weight, and reacts well in rocket engines.  It produces an extremely high heat of combustion per unit weight, and thus a very high specific impulse.

Diborane (and closely-related fuels, such as pentaborane) have been tested for use in many rockets, (mostly top secret) missiles, satellite propulsion systems, and spacecraft.

This document includes in-depth examination of diborane's physical and chemical properties, including:

  • Stability
  • Corrosiveness with various tank materials
  • Sensitivity to detonation and temperature
  • Combustion reactions with many oxidizers
The book has numerous tables, charts, drawings, photos, and almost three pages of technical references for further studies.  It's an exceptional reference resource for the rocket scientist, engineer, and technician--professional or "amateur."

Performance graph from the book:
note original security classification "CONFIDENTIAL" markings

Tables and charts in this technical report cover all important physical and chemical property of diborane, boron trioxide, and boron trifluoride.  Performance calculations are also given, including flame temperature, specific impulse, exhaust gas composition, and other key factors.  Toxicity studies are also presented.

The text covers the performance and use of diborane with liquid oxygen, liquid fluorine, liquid fluorine oxide, and hydrogen peroxide.

[These sample illustrations are at greatly reduced resolution and size]


From 1915 until 1958, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) carried out much of the cutting-edge research in aeronautics in the United States. 

Originally created in an effort to organize American aeronautical research and raise it to the level of European aviation, from the beginning, NACA emphasized research and development.  By 1920, the NACA had emerged as a small, loosely organized group of leading-edge scientists and engineers.

In 1940, Congress authorized the construction of an aircraft engine research laboratory near Cleveland, Ohio. Dedicated in 1943, it became Lewis Research Center in 1948, named after George Lewis, former NACA director of aeronautical research.  These advanced projects were carried out at the then-new Lewis Laboratories.

NACA was a valuable disseminator of information to designers and manufacturers. Research results distributed by the committee influenced American aviation technology, and its reports served as the basis for many innovations that were built into American civil and military aircraft. 

High-speed flight research after World War II was often a collaboration between the NACA and the U.S. Army Air Force.  In 1945, the U.S. Army Air Forces NACA began the first of a series of experimental aircraft projects, many of which were designed to develop technology for high-speed flight. 

At Lewis, NACA translated German documents on jet propulsion tests that became basic references in this new field of research. Italian and German professionals came to Lewis to work with their American colleagues in these new aspects of flight research.  This book is a report on some of the most important results of NACA research on rocket propellants.

The NACA ceased to exist on October 1, 1958, succeeded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which was formed largely in response to Soviet space achievements.  NACA became the nucleus of the new agency, and all NACA activities and facilities were folded into NASA.

Very hard to find and now out-of-print, this new limited edition has been republished by the Rocket Science Institute.  It's printed with a high-resolution laser printer (not photocopied) on high-quality, bright-white, acid-free paper and quality bound for years of reference use.  32 pages, large and easy-to-read 11" x 8-1/2" size.


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