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☁️ "A New Era of the Space Race - Can It Be Done Sustainably?"

The Interchange

Photo by SpaceX / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: David Banmiller
Guest: Derek Harris | CEO | Ecosene
Category: ☁️ Carbon Reduction | Space Travel

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:43] DH: “Only around five years [ago] Skyrora came about. […] With the UK market being very young and up and coming, we saw the chance that we could take a look at to try and make our launches slightly greener than the old technology that was out there. […] And that's allowed us to do some investment and to produce […] Ecosene, which is the fuel that we're using instead of kerosene. It's a sustainable aviation fuel […], but it's just the first stage to try and make our vehicle that little bit greener, to help launch the satellites going up.”

[3:47] DB: “120 rocket launches using the RP-1 kerosene fuel, currently being used by like SpaceX, emit about the same equivalent of carbon emissions as the aviation industry does an entire year.

[4:28] DH: “The products that we are making [Ecosene] off are plastics, which have been made and normally go to incineration or landfill. So by giving them a second lease of life, it allows us to cut down on basically […] having a pull these fuels out of the ground. […] We also have carbon capture as part of the system as well to try and capture the remaining carbon that has been released [during the production of Ecosene]. So that allows us to reduce that footprint there. […] [The] fuel […] basically went through refinement again, [which] takes out a lot of the nasties from it. So we're finding the reduction in things like sulfur. […] We're showing a between 30 and 40% [cut on carbon monoxide and dioxide].”

[8:55] DH: “The process of breaking [plastic] down is actually one that […] has been used before, or at least the first part of this is. So the first part is using pyrolysis, then going on to distillation, going through cooling systems and then using a hydro treatment. So it's a large part of why we've been able to accomplish this is the catalysts that we're using, which is our secret sauce […]. So we've seen a lot of good work on the pyrolysis side so far with rubber and other plastics being used. We've just built upon this knowledge and so are taking a step further.

[9:53] DH: “For every 1,000 kilograms […] of waste plastics, we get a usable 650 kilograms of usable fuels that come out of that. The rest of that weight, which will be around 350 kilos is made up of some of the gasses which go back into the actual process. So the gasses that are produced help to power the process […]. And then the rest of it is sort of like […] an ash, which over here is used quite a lot in fertilizers.”

[11:12] DH: “We're giving a second life to these [plastic] products. So while it is a sort of closed loop with that, these products would normally be left in landfill to disintegrate over thousands of years, go to incineration plants, where the actual release of the emissions is much higher from it just being burnt for more amounts of energy. […] I think what we're doing just now is taking that step forward. […] Our hopes are basically pinned on the future technologies, no one has decided to take the step in the middle to sort of bridge that gap as such.”

[12:30] DH: “Skyrora invented [Ecosene] to use it for rockets. […] But on the same stroke, we take a look […] other sectors […] [like] aviation [and] maritime.

[23:37] DH: “When I was last looking, using the US Department of Defense's budgets, it was roughly about $11 a gallon for RP-1. And we could produce Ecosene coming in at roughly about three $3 a gallon. And that was prior to basically finding out we could get a feedstock for free. So that was taking into account us having to buy feedstock from people and be charged for taking these plastics off someone.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 48 min | 🗓️ 04/01/2022
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