Do they really make Jetex fuel from bat guano?
No, Jetex fuel isn't made from guano of any flavor. Actually the original Jetex propellant was formulated of an exotic blend of guanidine nitrate, 2,4-dinitroresorcinol, and some other hard-to-find chemicals.
(There is a long and very circuitous link between the word "guano" and "guanidine," but suffice to say they're not really related as far as rocket science is concerned.)
Note that guanidine nitrate is NOT the same as nitroguanidine! These are two distinctly different compounds.
The original Jetex propellant pellets were a slow-burning, low-temperature composition that required a complex catalytic combustion process. They're not like other rocket propellants, and stand in a class of their own.
All Jetex motors require an alloy metal screen fitted between the propellant pellets and the exhaust nozzle. As the pellets burn and decompose, the byproducts pass through this "catalytic converter" screen -- a necessary step in their combustion process. The wire screen isn't simply to protect the nozzle from clogging.
original Jetex propellants were mixed in the
laboratories at Imperial Chemical Industries
(ICI), in Scotland. They were an
adaptation of several unusual British solid
propellants developed to power anti-aircraft
target drones during World War II. After
the war, Charles Wilmot and Joseph Mansour
(both keen model airplane enthusiasts)
designed a series of small, reloadable rocket
engines to power model airplanes, racing cars,
and boats. They called their novel
motors "Jetex," and introduced them in
1949. By the 1950s, thousands of
enthusiasts were flying Jetex-propelled models
in America and across Europe.
Jetex "50" Motor
Jetex "Scorpion" Motor
Jetex "Spacemaster 600"
Motor (the largest)
ICI decided that their small production of
Jetex propellant wasn't worth the time,
trouble, and risks, and stopped making
it. Though the formulation is
well-known, since then no other suitable
replacement has appeared.
Original Jetex 50 "Red
Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), c 1949
An improved Red Spot pellet
imported into USA 1950s, by American Telasco
Wilmot and Mansour tweaked their Jetex
propellant compositions and came out with
several larger rocket motors, their
pellets were sold under a variety of names
and brands. "Red Spot" was one
particularly favored formulation of the
1960s. Sometimes importers repackaged
the Jetex pellets, and sold them under their
own brand names (American Telasco, among
"The Good Stuff"
When the supplies of original Jetex propellants dried up, other formulations were tried. Some were sold as "Jet-X" propellant (usually in the form of rough, dark grey pellets). None of these later compositions work very well, unfortunately, for a variety of reasons.
non-original pellets (they don't work
for us ... )
So if you want to buy some "real Jetex" propellant, you'll have to search the eBay listings and compete with collectors (who have no intention of burning their hard-to-find winnings!). Look for those with the characteristic red-and-yellow Jetex packaging, and showing their origin as the Jetex works, in Totten (near Southamption), UK.
complete formulation details (and much, much
more about Jetex-type propellants), be sure to
get a copy of "Advanced
Nitrate-Type Solid Propellants,"
British Solid Propellants,"
both listed in our eBay Store.