Your common household crayon -- small, waxy and vibrantly colored -- is not known for helping rockets achieve lift off. But paraffin wax, a certain substance within your favorite doodling tool, is rife with possibilities for ass-kicking explosions.
Exhibit A: The Peregrine Rocket, a project from NASA engineers and Stanford University researchers, which uses a motor fueled by paraffin wax. Peregrine passed its final ground test in March, and video of the vehicle’s engine firing up is a true testament to combustion...and coloring.
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As NASA notes, paraffin wax serves as the rocket’s fuel, while nitrous oxide is the liquid oxidizer. When the two substances combine, combustion occurs, creating an impressive display of fire and torque.
In a blog post, NASA writes: “paraffin fuel burns three times faster than conventional fuels, and therefore can provide more thrust and higher performance than existing hybrid rockets.” Paraffin is also non-toxic, making its transportation less hazardous than conventional rocket fuels. The indication here, is that with the right combination of chemicals and high-powered machinery, everyday coloring utensils can help fuel scientific research.
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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.