UK Nitric Acid Oxidiser Rocket Engines by John Harlow

Date: 12 December 2020
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: Zoom
BIS Events | BIS West Midlands

The West Midlands Branch


UK Nitric Acid Oxidiser Rocket Engines By John Harlow

Speaker:       John Harlow

Date:              Saturday 12th December 2020

Start Time:   14:00

End Time:     15:15

Venue:          Via Zoom

Nitric acid is one of three liquid oxidizers employed in the development of early liquid propellant rocket engines at Westcott. Of the other two, hydrogen peroxide was being studied and used in development of novel torpedo propulsion systems before World War II. At the outset of the war all further such work was abandoned until wars end. The remaining oxidizer, liquid oxygen, was well known before the war but did not find use in liquid propellant rocket engines in the UK until the early 1940’s. Before World War II there appears to have been no rocket engine work at all in the UK involving the use of nitric acid or indeed of its derivative oxides of nitrogen.

This presentation gives an overview of how work on nitric acid engines began in the UK at Westcott and follows through to the development of propulsion systems that were used in flight test vehicles and eventually in the Chevaline Twin Chamber Propulsion Unit (TCPU).

Mention is also made of the use of nitric acid as a liquid propellant rocket oxidizer in other foreign missile systems imported for use by the UK armed forces.

Speaker – John Harlow

John has had a very interesting career being fortunate enough to have spent a lot of time involved with the technical aspects of rocketry. Having cut his teeth on Polaris, John went on to work on both launchers and other re-entry systems. He has worked for and/or with the MoD, Foreign Office, United Nations to name but a few and this has taken him to most satellite Prime Contractors and launch facilities around the planet.

He is a Past President of the BIS, and a member of the IAA History Committee.



13:55 – The meeting is available to join
14:00 – Welcome
14:05- UK Nitric Acid Oxidiser Rocket Engines By John Harlow
14:35 – Questions and Answers (we enable everyone’s microphone to allow an interactive Q&A session)

So, here’s the Plan/Joining Instructions!

Register for the Talk using the link below
Before the event, we will send you an email with the joining link for the meeting.
On the day, click meeting link (and follow the on-screen instructions to install Zoom if prompted)

Please Note

The Conference Call and Q & A sessions will be recorded (which may capture your name, picture, voice or video) and made available via the West Midlands Facebook group and possibly via the BIS HQ website. You consent to this by registering for the Conference Call/Q & A sessions.