Experimental and quantum mechanics investigations of early reactions of monomethylhydrazine with mixtures of NO2 and N2O4

Wei Guang Liu, Shiqing Wang, Siddharth Dasgupta, Stefan T. Thynell, William A. Goddard, Sergey Zybin, Richard A. Yetter

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39 Scopus citations


The gas-phase chemistry of the hypergolic system CH3NHNH2 - monomethylhydrazine (MMH), with oxidizers NO2/N2O4 at room temperature and 1atm N2 was investigated experimentally using a gold-coated chamber reactor, coupled with a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer. The IR-active species identified in the early reactions include HONO, monomethylhydrazinium nitrite (MMH·HONO), methyl diazene (CH3NNH), methyl nitrate (CH3ONO2), methyl nitrite (CH3ONO), nitromethane (CH3NO2), methyl azide (CH3N3), H2O, N2O and NO. In order to elucidate the mechanisms by which these observed products are formed, we carried out quantum mechanics calculations [CCSD(T)/M06-2X] for the possible reaction pathways. Based on these studies, we propose that the oxidation of MMH in an atmosphere of NO2 occurs via two mechanisms: (1) sequential H-abstraction and HONO formation, and (2) reaction of MMH with asymmetric ONONO2, leading to formation of methyl nitrate. These mechanisms successfully explain all intermediates observed experimentally. We conclude that the formation of asymmetric ONONO2 is assisted by an aerosol formed by HONO and MMH that provides a large surface area for ONONO2 to condense, leading to the generation of methyl nitrate. Thus we propose that the overall pre-ignition process involves both gas-phase and aerosol-phase reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)970-981
Number of pages12
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by, or in part by, the U. S. Army Research Laboratory and the U. S. Army Research Office under grant number W911NF-08-1-0124. The computational facility was funded by DURIP grants from ARO and ONR.


  • Hypergolic propellant
  • Monomethylhydrazine
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Pre-ignition reactions
  • Quantum mechanics


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