Official sources from the Chinese space corporation reported that the Tianlong-2 rocket (Tianlong-2) launched in April by the private company Space Pioneer ran on aviation kerosene obtained from coal. This was the first such test of a non-petroleum liquid fuel. Thus, China is trying to reduce dependence on imported energy resources and ensure fuel security in the aerospace industry.
China has little of its own oil (and it is mostly of inadequate quality) and a lot of coal. Coal liquefaction technology was not invented today, and it has become a response to challenges in the supply chains of petroleum products. A probable conflict with Taiwan is guaranteed to lead to a naval blockade of China and to blocking oil supplies to the country along the main sea route. The deficit will partially have to be closed with our own resources. Therefore, in China, they attended to the creation of lines for the conversion of coal into aviation kerosene of the highest quality.
The Tianlong-2 launch vehicle is equipped with YF-102 engines powered by a liquid kerosene-oxygen fuel pair. This is a promising engine for new Chinese rockets and it will also be used in carriers of other companies (the engine was developed by the 6th Academy of Aerospace Science and Technology). The successful launch was preceded by more than 300 fire tests of the engine lasting over 60,000 s. The launch was successful with the launch of the payload into space, which proved the practical value of “coal” fuel.
The successful flight demonstration also paved the way for coal fuel for other Chinese launch vehicles, including the state-owned Long March 5, Long March 6, and Long March 7.
Production lines in China for the production of aviation kerosene from coal produce up to 5,000 tons of fuel per year, which can be regarded as a drop in the ocean for China’s needs. By 2025, the volumes will grow to 30,000 tons per year, which is somewhat better, but also does not solve the problem of a shortage of oil products. But as a basis for creating a full-scale industry, this is enough, because in this case, the development of a technical process and proof of the fundamental possibility of replacing scarce energy carriers were important.
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