Chemistry
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Ammonium perchlorate, (NH4)+(ClO4)-, is a powerful oxidizer which has become the base ingredient for most solid rocket motors ranging from those driving model rockets to the Space Shuttle boosters (SRBs). While pure ammonium perchlorate (AP) will burn vigorously, it is very oxygen rich. Actual rocket propellants use an elastomeric material both to bind the crystalline AP into a solid mass and to provide fuel for oxygen given off by AP as it decomposes. For even higher performance, a metal such as Al or Zr can be added to the mix.

AP is a pyrotechnic, so it can be ignited by friction or high temperature. It is, however, less sensitive than other oxidizing materials used in rocket propellants. It is also much harder to detonate than ammonium nitrate. (It can be done, but requires more than the typical blasting caps used with ammonium nitrate / fuel oil explosives.)

Ammonium perchlorate is available on the retail market, as are small AP-based rocket motors for hobby use.

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