There are now drivers on the roads across America running around in their normal everyday looking cars and pouring water from a garden hose into their fuel tank. Hydrogen fueled cars are now here.
And along the same concept the Ests rocket company has come out with a hydrogen fueled rocket kit. The kit consists of a base and two rockets that are fueled by hydrogen that is created in the base.
When my family heard this rocket was coming out over a year ago we had to have it. We are really into model rocketry and this just seemed great. Although it is a first in rocketry and with all things that are a new concept, there are problems with the first design of most anything. We still wanted to get this and give it a try.
My son decided he wanted to spend his money and buy it, then do a report on it for 4-H. That sounded great to us. We waited till the rocket came out on the market. It took about a year before any stores near us could get it form the time we first saw it on the internet.
Then we waited a few more weeks for it to go on sale at our favorite hobby store. Hobby Lobby is a national chain hobby store that has internet coupons and sales every week. If there is a particular item you want but is a little too expensive, wait. It will probably go on sale soon and you can get it at 1/3 or Ã?Â½ off.
My son purchased it and brought it home for Ã?Â½ off the 35 dollars they were asking for it, or $17.50. He spent a very short time reading the instructions which are all of four sides of a pamphlet.
There is a base with the controls and the battery packs in it. A fuel generator, reaction chamber and launch tube connect to this with some rubber gaskets to keep the water and gases from leaking out.
Assembly takes a few minutes, you should go slow and read each step so you don’t miss something like one of the gaskets. You should also inspect the gaskets to ensure they are round and do not have any nicks or dents in them, more on this little problem later.
The kit comes with two rockets, one is a bounce recovery rocket and a helicopter recovery rocket. The bounce one has a big rubber cone on the front and the helicopter has two blades that swing down and are held to the body by a ring and at launch swing out and then when the rocket is going up and down it spins.
Also in the kit are some rubber bands for the helicopter for the blades to swing out with, a plastic bottle for your water solution, extra gaskets and citric acid packets for the water solution. You need the citric acid to aid in the water splitting process.
Did I not mention that this whole thing splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. That is what fuels your rockets, hydrogen. The process is simple. You add the citric acid to the water and shake up to dissolve. Then when the base is assembled with the batteries, fuel generator and reaction chamber you pour the water carefully into the reaction chamber. You should tip the whole thing so you pour the solution in and do not get the igniter inside wet.
If you get the igniter wet it will takes longer for the rocket to launch when you get that far. You fill the chamber to a red line on it and set it down. Then assemble the rest by putting the launch tube on and the rocket of your choice.
You then hook up some wires to the parts and turn it on. The batteries will send electricity through the solution and it will separate the water into hydrogen and oxygen. You can see in the fuel generator the gases forming on a cloth in the solution, then rise through the chamber to the space at the top of it.
The gases fill the launch tube, with the hydrogen which is lighter on the top and the oxygen towards the bottom. When the green light comes on a sensor inside has detected enough hydrogen to launch. You have to stand away from the base gently pulling the launch switch away form the body as a safety device3 built into the system.
You push the button and wait a few seconds for the launch. The rocket makes a quiet popping sound and up it goes, about two hundred feet or so. The bounce rocket went a little higher than the helicopter but hey both went well.
There is very little noise compared to launching the other model rockets with the solid fuel engines. This is more like pulling a cork out of a bottle. The hydrogen burns quite rapidly in the launch tube when you hit the switch and it ignites, sending the rocket up. It is an action reaction thing from physics that propels the rocket. But it is fun to do.
The launch takes a little more time, according to the instructions you have to wait for the gases to build up for two to five minutes. We launched three times in about twenty minutes, each took between four and six minutes, the first time being the longest.
There are a few problems we have had with this whole thing that shows how much unlike regular model rocketry this is and how much more like science it is. When we got the thing assembled at home and were test fitting things my son noticed one blade of the helicopter is longer than the other. So when you assemble it the blade does not hold in to the ring for launch.
This is not a big problem, we launched it with out holding the blades in and it went fine. But he called the company and we hit our second problem, one of timing. They said they will send a replacement out as soon as possible, which was our bad timing. They were moving there warehouse form one location to another and all their supplies for these kits are currently unavailable.
They will get it to us as soon as they find it. Which is fine with us, we have launched it and there is the second rocket to launch. The other problem was when we tried to launch the first time, it didn’t work. When you launch there are some things you have to do.
Some of the safety features are an important part of launching also, set the base on level ground, a ball makes contact for the circuit through it and if that ball is not making contact in the middle of the little dome it won’t work.
Also you have to gently pull the switch cord from the base or a switch will not close in the base and you will get no launch from the switch in your hand.
Then there are the gaskets that seal the gases and water from coming out. I said to check them when you assemble the thing. My son missed a nick in one of the gaskets and we stood out in the field and watched for a green light that never came.
We went home and checked the thing over and I found the nick. He replaced the gasket and back out to the field for a successful launch. It is fun with the problems though. To do something that before was only done as science experiments in labs. That is were the fun is, launching a rocket with the hydrogen you split off from water.
One thing my son noticed when trying to launch the second rocket, a gasket at the top of the launch tube gets pushed back from the groove it sits in during launch. This just needs to get pushed back into place before the next launch.
So before each launch you need to check everything on the rocket and base to make sure it is set up correctly.
The kit comes with four packets of citric acid but you won’t be using that up anytime soon. You can keep using the same water, that is why they give you the bottle. To keep pouring the water out and saving it for the next launch.
In all this is a great model rocket and is great fun. It is not something for the impatient. You do have to wait for the reaction to take place and you do have to have a little understanding of what you are doing if there are problems.
The biggest understanding is that you are dealing with gases and not liquids as such. If there is a hole towards the front of the rocket above the one designed in, like from hitting the ground repeatedly, that could be a problem. The gaskets are the one logical one and we are going to deal with that by trying to get a gasket from the hardware store that fits better on the end of the launch tube.
This is a great kit and a wonderful opportunity for learning with kids. I know we have had fun with it and have only started launching rockets with the EST Hydrogen Fuel Rocket.