A rocket-powered prosthetic arm


This mechanical prosthetic arm, developed by Michael Goldfarb and his colleagues of the Center for Intelligent Mechatronics at Vanderbilt University, is powered by a pencil-sized rocket that burns pressurized liquid hydrogen peroxide. The reaction, which is catalyzed by iridium-coated alumina granules, generates steam that forces the pistons in the arm to move up and down.

Conventional prosthetic limbs are powered by batteries. Rockets were employed here as an alternative, because of the weight of batteries needed to power a prosthesis for any reasonable amount of time.

The prototype rocket-powered bionic arm can be used to lift up to 25 lbs. This is 3-4 times more than currently available prostheses. It is also quite dextrous – the wrist can twist and bend, and each of the fingers can open and close independently.

The project has until now been funded by DARPA. But Goldfarb fears that funding from the agency might dry up, because of concerns regarding the safety of the prosthesis. The steam generated by the rockets can reach a temperatures in excess of 230 degress Celcius; although it is vented through a porous skin-like cover, it could still be a danger to both the user of the prosthesis and those in close proximity.

(Via Live Science

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  1. #1 G Barnett
    August 29, 2007

    Obviously, they need to change the venting to be a concentrated jet of steam coming out of the palm. Talk about self-defense!

    (sigh, I can’t help bein’ cheeky….)

  2. #2 David Harmon
    August 29, 2007

    OK, this is so going on the Narbonic forums… under “Mad Science Among Us”!

  3. #3 suck my massive cock
    November 3, 2009

    and here I was thinking they made a prosthetic arm that shot the fist into someone )’=

  4. #4 thomas
    May 30, 2011

    hi my name is tom i have had a fourquarter amputation of the arm and shoulder nd just was woundering if i had any chance of an arm lyk this one thanx

  5. #5 angel marie
    June 7, 2011

    I am planning on being in the medical fiels when I get older so this is very interesting fir me.. I don’t want to have. Protestetic arm but I was just trying to figure out how the doctors get the wires connected to the arm wires and stuff like that

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