back to article US Army working on 'exploding marmalade' missile tech

US military-funded rocket scientists have turned to food boffins and agricultural engineers for help in their effort to produce exploding marmalade, intended to fuel radical new missiles and spacecraft of the future. No, really. According to boffins at Purdue Uni in Indiana, there would be many advantages to rocket fuel with …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. David Willis
    Paris Hilton

    Purdue Uni

    Purdue Uni - these were the guys that lit a BBQ in .01 of a second using 10 gallons of LOX (liquid oxygen) and a smoldering tab end. ( Ok they vapourised 80% of the chracoal but what was left was ready to be cooked on).

    They also provided video of this spectacular effort (I won't supply a link, just search for BBQ and liqiud oxygen on google)

    Good old George Goble..

    Paris ? - even she wouldn't try anything quite so stupid (tho entertaining)

  2. oxo

    Not Marmalade -you're just being funny

    But I would say that a thixotropic gel would be just the ticket.


    (ex-rocket scientist)

  3. Colin Mountford

    I wouldn't have expected anything less.

    With NASA it's always jam tomorrow.

  4. Trevor Watt

    All this is fine and good

    But what will it tase like on my toast?

  5. Anonymous Coward


    what genius thought of this.

    "We need something between a liquid and solid. What on earth could we use?"

    "A Gel, perhaps...."


    It's not rocket science...oh hold on, it is!

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Squirting ?

    They need experts on the process of squirting thick liquids through small nozzles.

    Heck, I've been doing that since I was a teenager! HIRE ME DARPA !

    Oh wait ......

  7. Bad Beaver

    @ David Willis

    Nice video. I love how they guys in the background go "Fire! Fire!" all Beavis & Butthead style.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Extremely Dangerous

    The rockets will always land marmalade side down.

  9. Paul Murphy

    What about marmite?

    Surely a better consistency to handle - my marmalade has always been a little too solid, but marmite never seems to set.

    Tastes nasty though...


  10. LINCARD1000

    @ Trevor Watt

    Dude, at the velocity and force it will arrive at on your toast, you're worried about the *taste*?

  11. Robajob

    Exploding marmalade?

    How is DARPA not involved in this?

  12. Benny

    @Trevor Watt

    it will be a taste explosion

  13. Secretgeek

    Marmalade powered missiles?

    Surely this jam fuelled destruction concept is more in the realm of that bulging bonced bonkers boffin bureau - DARPA?

  14. Anonymous Coward


    So what type of rocket fuel are we talking about here? If its a hydrocarbon fuel for use with an oxidiser whats wrong with good ole vaseline?

    Just inject/extrude it into the combustion chamber feed in the NOx and away you go....

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Vaselline !?! Oh, where is PH's phone number ?????

  16. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Puts new meaning to the expression

    Chocolate surprise

  17. Geeks and Lies
    Paris Hilton

    Reports that Paddington Bear....

    ...has been hired to assist with the research are not as of yet confirmed!

    Paris because she knows a thing or 2 about squirting thick liquids through a hole!

  18. Eddy Ito
    Black Helicopters

    Hmmm... seen this before

    Oh yeah, they called it napalm. They could also just chill diesel to that point where it's not quite wax but I suppose the control scheme would be a bit extreme.

    Black helicopter because I'm sure they're running it through their engines already.

  19. Luther Blissett

    US Army playing catch-up with USAF, USN?

    > the food and agriculture boffins come in. They're well accustomed to the problems of pumping jam, marmalade, pureed spuds, Dream Topping etc through advanced processing machinery by the thousands of tons;

    at high speed with major turbulent flow problems - and then holding a lighted match to it?

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Would an exploding marmelade rocket lead to....

    Picture yourself on a boat on a river

    With tangerene trees and marmelade skies.....

    Maybe the Beatles COULD see in to the future.......

  21. Bryn Evans

    An explosive reaction, and...

    Youre Toast

  22. Brett Brennan

    What about Scaled Composite's stuff?

    The boffins at Mohave have been using a throttled solid propulsion system all along. I wonder if the MIL SPEC folks are just avoiding this concept because it would make them look bad - they didn't think of it first, eh?

  23. Lukin Brewer

    Another problem with solid fuel,

    is that it can't be monitored. Solid fuel rockets don't degrade as fast as fireworks do, but misfires can happen when an area of the fuel reacts with itself in storage and becomes dud. Unless the dud area is visible on the surface, there is no way to detect it (barring some sort of NMR scanner). And no, you can't take a core sample - the rocket then won't burn in the manner expected. With gel fuel, it will be possible to fuel up the rocket closer to anticipated use, stir up the fuel and take a sample in which any rogue reaction products will be detectable, and, if necessary, suck out the fuel, purge the plumbing, and refuel.

    On another note, it should not surprise anyone that British comedians got to this first. There was a Goodies book featuring "5-star treacle essence" as aviation fuel, which the Goodies had to replace with their own invention, "Goody Goo", to beat a shortage. And I wouldn't be surprised if the Goons hadn't explored this at least once.

  24. Bounty


    They could look into granulated(?) solid fuels, I'm thinking something like sand. It could be throttled up and down etc. It's probably less messy than gel. They could use pressurized gas and nozzle size/shape to change the flow and other characteristics (% O2 etc.) Basically an "advanced" gunpowder/smokeless powder rocket.

  25. jon

    For all the amateur boffins

    It's all about the physics of ketchup or thixotropy if you want to be more technical . Stable when at rest behaving like a gel but becoming fluid when agitated. The thing is though, who is s going to want a rocket with the instructions

    'Shake well before use' ?

  26. David Eddleman


    Err, surely they didn't think of napalm did they? (Yes, yes, for those of you in the peanut gallery I know that napalm is not a fuel, it is a slow-burn substance). What happens if the container leaks or ruptures and sprays gel fuel everywhere? Will it be easy to put out and not stick to everything?

  27. Tom

    Brute force and pig ignorance

    I was under the impression that amateur rocketry had already solved this problem with PTFE/Nitrous Oxide: All the bang of a chemical booster with the control of a liquid fueled killer of the innocent.

    Oh hang on there - its a 'need a specific use for something my freind has already invented' and I'm due for a big wack if I can pull it off contract.

    You dont think the UK invented 'PFI for my best mate' do you?

  28. Adrian Coward

    @Brett Brennan

    The problem with hybrid motors like the one SpaceDev provided for Space Ship One is that while their ISP compares favourably with conventional solids (250s v 270s for the Shuttle SRB), they don't really scale well for thrust. If you want to increase the thrust of a solid, you just make it longer (most solids burn along their entire length from inside out), while with liquid (or gel) propellants you increase the flow rate by using bigger pumps.

    A hybrid requires you to increase the flow of oxidizer (which requires larger pumps) *and* increase the area of fuel (make it longer) - not to mention the difficulty of ensuring proper combustion along the entire length of the rocket.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Would this be a bad time...

    ... to point out that Bayern-Chemie have already demonstrated Gelled Fuel Propulsion motors on the ground, and have a test flight planned for 2009?

    Or that they also have a Throttleable Ducted Rocket already in production which has all of the same listed advantages, but with solid fuel?

    Icon: test firing of a rocket motor ;-)

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Marketing exercise?

    I for one salute the efforts of the rocket scientists to boost the popularity of my favourite breakfast comestible but I can't agree with their preference for shredless from a point of personal preference, marmalade just isn't right unless there are chunks of peel in it acting like speed bumps for your knife.

    Mind you, lumps of peel exiting a rocket motor nozzle in excess of mach 20 could put a serious dent in your toast so I expect they are probably right, being rocket scientists and all.

    Paris, she's no rocket scientist but I'd share my marmalade with her at breakfast any day.

  31. Evil_Medic


    <German accent>That is all!</German accent>

    Strangelovian mad scientist for obvious reasons

  32. Pum

    Like marmalade without the rind ...

    So, more like Lemon Curd, or runny honey, or swarfega :-)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    At last

    I've been waiting for this for my rocket powered car. I predict it'll be marketed as Traffic Jam (TM)

  34. rick buck
    IT Angle

    age old problems

    Toast, Marmalade, You HAVE to have butter.

    Speed bumps on my toast? That is just weird.

    But I guess there is always the "smooth" and the "chunky" crowd (for you peanut butter lovers)

    Now there is an idea... Use a "High Energy" Food. 'You know like peanut butter.

    And not a word on "JUST How Volatile Orange Oil Is".

    Try lighting orange zest oil with a lighter while squeezing an orange peel to make it squirt...

    Maybe marmalade is not such a bad idea, BUT SPEED BUMPS?

    I'm usually a chunky guy, but in this case I'll take SMOOTH.

    PS: If you make a marmalade sandwich, it will ALWAYS fall bread side down.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like