From what I know, it seems good, so why does no one use butane as a rocket fuel?

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    $\begingroup$ I think it can be chalked up to the intense conservativeness of the aerospace industry. All hydrocarbons end up being somewhat similar to each other. $\endgroup$ – ikrase Oct 31 '20 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ It would seem to me that, for full-scale rockets, using a fuel which is not liquid at room temperature and pressure is an unnecessary complication. Yes, LOX is used as an oxidizer, but that's because there's no other choice (and LOX is not terribly dangerous to handle unpressurized). I don't doubt that hobbyists somewhere have at one time used butane as a fuel, though. $\endgroup$ – Dan Nov 1 '20 at 21:58

Hydrocarbons are largely interchangeable when it comes to performance, and as long as no single one beats kerosene with a large enough margin, the hassle of changing infrastructure is generally not worth it.

Compared to RP-1, butane has slightly (very slightly) higher specific impulse, and somewhat lower density, largely cancelling each other out.

Butane comes up short, since if sacrificing some density for Isp is beneficial, why not go all the way with methane? And if sacrificing density is unacceptable, more highly refined compounds like syntin gives you the same Isp boost, with even a little higher density as an added bonus.


Hydrocarbon plots from user Proponent on nasaspaceflight


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