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Cesar Morales Verdejo

Catalysis 2023
Cesar Morales Verdejo, Speaker at International Catalysis Congress
Universidad Bernardo O'Higgins, Chile
Title : Evidence for formation of iron oxide nanoparticles into the mechanistic of the Thermal DecomposiAmmoniump perchlorate using ferrocenyl compounds derived from 1,2,3-triazolyl ligand as burning rate catalysts 


Rocket technology research is currently receiving the utmost attention due to its potential applications, mainly in the aerospace equipment industry. In this way, for the first time in human history, a commercially built spacecraft by Space-X operated by a crew of NASA astronauts has been launched from American soil to the International Space Station. Furthermore, the launch of this commercial space system designed for humans is an essential step on our path to expand human exploration to the Moon and Mars. A propellant rocket motor is the purest form of an energy conversion device in which matter (solid or liquid) is burned, producing hot gases.

Concerning the solid propellant rocket, the thermal decomposition of ammonium perchlorate (AP) has a close relationship with the propellants’ combustion process. There are highly effective burn-rate (BR) catalysts for AP and excellent candidates for application in rocket motors with high thrust and acceleration power in comparison with Fe2O3, a commonly used BR catalyst.

Therefore, the impact on the thermal degradation of AP is often used to evaluate the combustion effect of a burning rate catalyst candidate on the combustion behaviour of composite solid propellants. This work aims to describe the catalytic effect of different ferrocenyl compounds derived from 1,2,3-triazolyl ligand as BR catalysts by thermogravimetry (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) techniques, which will significantly decrease the decomposition temperature of Ammonium Perchlorate, resulting in improved performance of the composite solid propellant, and increasing the energy release. The ballistic parameters of the examined propellants were determined by combustion in a laboratory rocket motor. The ballistic properties were evaluated in the pressure range 7–30 MPa. It was found that the linear burning rate was increased for propellants with ferrocene derivatives as BR Catalyst compared to propellant without the modifier. Comparatively lower pressure index (n) value was observed for composition containing ferrocene derivatives as BR catalyst than for propellant with iron oxide and HTPB-based propellant without the modifier.

All ferrocenyl compounds derived from 1,2,3-triazolyl ligand here reported were characterized by means of 1H and 13C NMR, elemental analysis, and Mössbauer spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction.

Audience Take Away:

  • Introduce students and young professionals to a multidisciplinary environment for the development of propulsion technologies. The production of solid propellants allows the design and implementation of probe rockets, essential for the development of aerospace technology.
  • Other faculty could use this research to expand their teaching related to different topics, such as thermal, mechanical, chemical, and thermochemical data of the propellants and reaction products, which are essential parameters that determine the flight performance of the rocket"
  • The present work consists of developing propellant-catalyst mixtures, with projection of scaling towards the propulsion of small-sized rockets, with sufficient impulse for the placement of microsatellites at the suborbital level. For this purpose, this work is oriented along three axes:
  • First axis: The study of a series of synthetic propellant-catalyst mixtures, for the development of a suitable fuel for propulsion of suborbital rockets.
  • Second axis: The development of an assembly to be used as a ballistic measurement test bench for small-scale nozzles, which allows obtaining physical and chemical measurements of the impulse generated by the combustion of propellant-catalyst mixtures.
  • Third axis: The study of propulsion scalability in a suborbital rocket in the field.
  • Since the combustion performances, particularly the BR and pressure exponent, have always been the focus in the field of solid propellant and considering that the ferrocene derivatives have become an indispensable component in HTPB/AP composite solid propellants owing to their extraordinary effects in enhancing the BRs, especially because they bring down pressure indexes of the propellants, in this context, this contribution describes the catalytic activity of the ferrocenyl compounds derived from 1,2,3-triazolyl ligand on the BR and its effect on the pressure exponent of the composite solid propellant in comparison with ferric oxide, commonly used modifier.
  • In this way, the formulation of ferrocenyl compounds derived from 1,2,3-triazolyl ligand as burning rate catalysts, increasing the performance of the combustion rate, allowing access to rocket flight tests, in a multidisciplinary environment, allowing projects on meteorology, contamination of the troposphere and the stratosphere, agriculture, telecommunications, maritime and land monitoring, among others.


Dr. Cesar Morales-Verdejo studied Chemistry at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile and graduated in 2006. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry degree in 2010 at the same institution. After one-year postdoctoral fellowship supervised by Dr. Michael D. Hopkins at Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, USA, he obtained the position of an Associate Professor at Universidad Bernardo O’Higgins, Chile. During his career, he has co-authored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and has received funding as a PI and co-PI on grants from the Chilean Science Foundation (Fondecyt) and the US Army (RDECOM W911NF1810398).