A Hybrid Rocket Engine – Engineered by Using Nytrox | IE – Interesting Engineering

They say if you stay the course and persevere, you will succeed. This is what a bunch of students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discovered.

The pupils had set a very lofty goal for themselves: to build a hybrid rocket engine that uses paraffin and a novel nitrous oxide-oxygen mixture called Nytrox. But their path was not an easy one. It was filled with obstacles and setbacks.


First, they lacked a safe testing area. “We planned to conduct the test at the U of I’s Willard airport retired jet engine testing facility. But the Department of Aerospace Engineering halted all testing until safety requirements could be met,” said the team leader Vignesh Sella.

An obstacle for each step

The team cooperated with another student rocket group to create a safety review gathering to overcome this challenge. “As a result of that meeting, we came up with a plan to move the project forward,” added Sella.

After reaching out to a few more colleagues, the team was then invited to execute their hydrostatic and cold-flow testing at Purdue’s Zucrow Laboratories, a facility exclusively dedicated to testing rocket propulsion. However, that wasn’t the end of their troubles.

Just when things were taking shape, COVID-19 struck. Still, not one to be defeated, the team adapted. 

“As the disruptions caused by COVID-19 required us to work remotely, we pivoted the paper by focusing on documenting the design processes and decisions we made for the engine. This allowed us to work remotely and complete a paper that wasn’t too far from the original abstract,” added Sella.

He further noted that the members met

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