I'm doing a DIY project on if it's possible for gelatin to be used as rocket fuel. This is just standard gelatin in a standard rocket. I know that gelatin is made from animal fat and that it has lots of sugar in it. So is it possible?

  • $\begingroup$ No. Jello-type gelatin, made per recipe, has way too much water to burn effectively. Even without the water the dry gelatin wouldn't burn with enough thrust to be an effective rocket propellant. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Nov 22 '15 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ But like what if you make it super dry $\endgroup$ – SirMathhman Nov 22 '15 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ Like the powder version $\endgroup$ – SirMathhman Nov 22 '15 at 20:13

Powdered sugar is often used in chemistry demonstrations, in the presence of oxygen it is highly combustable (there have been significant explosions and fires at sugar processing plants in the past due to this).

The sugar is high in energy, and the fine powdered variety has a greater surface area with which to interact with oxygen, producing the burst of energy needed. The sugar by itself however, is probably not enough to get any propellant effect, you'd need to add some kind of oxygen source. A quick google suggests mixtures of powdered sugar and potassium nitrate (link).

Dry gelatine (the powdered version) is essentially just sugar plus, as you noted, animal extracts or vegetarian friendly alternatives, so the same should apply, though using actual sugar is probably a lot cheaper.

Edit: As pointed out by @MaxW in the comments below, and as eluded to in my opening comment, igniting a fuel in the presence of an oxygen source can be highly explosive. Be sure to take necessary safety precautions (work on a small scale, away from buildings. Ignite from a distance, and be sure any spectators are also out of harms way etc.) and also ensure that you're not breaking any laws in your area.

  • $\begingroup$ So gelatin in powder form plus potassium nitrate can yield thrust? $\endgroup$ – SirMathhman Nov 22 '15 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ I don't specifically know about gelatine, but based on your question, this is what your project aims to find out. If your gelatine contains enough sugar, and you can get enough oxygen around it when it ignites, then I see no reason why you shouldn't get some generation of thrust from the combustion of the sugar present. $\endgroup$ – NotEvans. Nov 22 '15 at 20:58
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    $\begingroup$ There is a fine line between a bomb and rocket booster. So willy nilly mixing of sugar and nitrates to make a rocket booster doesn't seem like a good idea. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Nov 22 '15 at 21:07
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    $\begingroup$ Ok...sure...well I guess that's what an experiment is, amirite? $\endgroup$ – SirMathhman Nov 22 '15 at 23:26

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