Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Kristina Lemmer

Second Advisor

Dr. Claudia Fajardo-Hansford

Third Advisor

Dr. Bade Shrestha

Fourth Advisor

Dr. James Springstead


Ionic liquids, quantum chemistry, dual-mode propulsion, hydroxylammonium nitrate, plasma, decomposition


The United States Air Force is interested in developing a situationally responsive space environment. In order to achieve this, dual-mode-propulsion will be utilized. A new class of propellants is being developed for this application based on energetic ionic liquids. Two ionic liquids of current interest are Hydroxylammonium Nitrate (HAN) and Hydroxyethylhydrazinium Nitrate (HEHN) due to their beneficial performance characteristics. The decomposition and ionization chemistry of these two species is investigated in this work. Using GAUSSIAN09 software, reactions with important radicals are explored through quantum chemistry. The energetics of reactions as well as the identity of key product complexes are given. This work aims to explain the beneficial macroscopic performance of HAN and HEHN through insight into the molecular processes taking place.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access