Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Stephen A. Whitmore


Stephen A. Whitmore


David K. Geller


R. Rees Fullmer


Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) is a common industrial plastic that is widely used for structural and piping applications. Additionally, within the past decade ABS has become the most popular material used in a type of rapid prototyping known as fused- deposition modeling (FDM). Within the past three years, ABS plastic blends have also been investigated as a potential fuel for hybrid- and solid-propelled rocket systems, exhibiting promising results. Because the use of ABS as a rocket propellant is very recent, a pyrolysis database, describing how ABS will burn, at the temperatures and heating rates experienced by rocket systems does not exist. Previous pyrolysis tests were performed for �re-prevention tests, at heating rates that were nearly an order of magnitude lower than those experienced during rocket combustion. This report investigates the properties of ABS as it is heated to temperatures over 500◦ C. The resulting surface regression rates are measured and plotted against temperature to create an Arrhenius-type curve that allows important pyrolysis and kinetic combustion parameters, such as heats of gasification and activation energy, to be calculated. Accurate knowledge of these parameters is essential to improve modeling of the combustion performance of ABS as a fuel for solid and hybrid rocket systems.