APP has developed a catalytic igniter for future space engine systems. This is done in cooperation with TNO. In the general catalytic igniter concept a catalyst is applied to decompose a propellant, thereby releasing thermal energy. In our current design hydrogen peroxide is decomposed into a high temperature mixture of water vapour and oxygen. This can in turn be used to ignite a mixture of propellants in a thrust chamber.
In case of a requirement for a very high level of thermal energy delivered by the igniter, a hydrocarbon fuel like ethanol can injected in the gas stream after the catalyst and burned in the igniter.
The advantage of the catalytic concept is that no regulated electrical device is needed to ignite the propellants in the igniter. Compared to a spark torch igniter, the ignition electronics and the spark plug can be omitted.