Phenomena

Coke and Butane Rockets

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Rocket science has a reputation for being an incredibly difficult subject. But while there’s complexity in the execution, the concept behind rockets is pretty simple: throw mass out the back really fast and you’ll move forward. Whether you’re talking about a Saturn V or these Coke-and-butane-powered bottles, the basic principle is the same.

These rockets get their kick mostly from the added butane, which has a very low boiling point. When the bottle is flipped, the lighter butane is forced to rise through the Coke. With a large surface area of liquid butane exposed to the warmer Coke, the butane becomes gaseous. That sudden increase in volume forces a liquid-Coke-and-gaseous-butane mixture out of the bottle, which has a helpful nozzle shape to further increase the propellant’s speed. Once the phase change is underway, the rocket quickly takes off! (Image and video credit: The Slow Mo Guys)

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