Prof. Benny Natan has won the Hershel Rich Innovation Award.

The prize was awarded for Prof. Natan’s work on A Rocket Engine that uses Green Hypergolic Gel Propellant. The rocket motor uses a propellant that ignites upon contact between the oxidizer and the fuel (hypergolic ignition). Both ingredients are not toxic, are highly energetic and safe. Gelation of hydrocarbon fuels allows suspension of reactive and catalyst solid particles within the fuel that cause ignition upon contact with the oxidizer. During the operation of the motor the gel fuel and the oxidizer (such as hydrogen peroxide) are injected in the combustion chamber, in which the catalyst particles within the fuel will react with the oxidizer and combustion will occur spontaneously without the need of a dedicated ignition system.

The motor operation is controllable. The propellant can be ignited, turned off and reignite and the motor can operate in pulses. This can increase significantly the operating range of the vehicle and/or on-line change of the operation. Moreover, safety is increased. The danger for leaks is decreased in comparison to liquid propellant motors and the propellant is not sensitive to static electricity and obeys the rules for insensitive munitions.