Elon Musk Is Captain Planet: SpaceX Wants to Turn Carbon Dioxide to Rocket Fuel, But Is It Possible?

Elon Musk Is Captain Planet: SpaceX Wants to Turn Carbon Dioxide to Rocket Fuel, But Is It Possible?
Elon Musk went to Twitter and expressed his desire in collecting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and turning them into a SpaceX rocket fuel. Photo : Maja Hitij /Getty Images

Elon Musk, Time Magazine's Person of the Year 2021 and being a captain planet through SpaceX and Tesla, went to Twitter and bluntly expressed his interest in his new venture that allows him to prove that traveling into space can assist the Earth as well.

Many in the government and the media are obsessed with human-induced climate change, which is produced by the production of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

With that, Musk suggested a very interesting solution in which he could help.

Musk tweeted "SpaceX is starting a program to take CO2 out of atmosphere & turn it into rocket fuel. Please join if interested".

 

He believed that this venture of his is relevant in addressing both helping to alleviate the climate change experienced on Earth, and his desire to continue the exploration on Mars.

It was reported by Business Insider that the Falcon 9 rocket of SpaceX uses kerosene as fuel, which emits numerous chemicals other than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Sustainable SpaceX Rocket Fuel, Is It Possible?

According to The Hill, in Elon Musk's proposal of creating rocket fuel using carbon dioxide is the easy part.

There have been multiple attempts in the past that successfully converted carbon dioxide to rocket fuel. One of which is the century-old process of Paul Sabatier, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, who formulated hydrogen with carbon dioxide, which later resulted in the creation of methane and water.

In fact, liquid methane and liquid oxygen are the chemicals burned by the SpaceX rockets develop in Boca Chica, Texas.

However, Euronews stated that it is not yet comprehensible how SpaceX would collect carbon dioxide and convert it into rocket fuel.

Nevertheless, there are scientific procedures that can be utilized to make liquid fuel.

An example of this is the method used by the Canadian business Carbon Engineering, which uses carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then combines it with hydrogen from water.

In addition, NASA has also created a method for converting CO2 into gasoline that uses metal oxide thin film devices to transform the gas into fuel before it is released into the atmosphere.

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How SpaceX Rocket Fuel Works

There is a company called Air Company as reported by Popular Mechanics, which also share the same vision on utilizing carbon dioxide for the health of the planet, and they have successfully proven how.

Co-founder, and CEO at Air Company, Stafford Sheehan stated that right now, both RP-1 [a rocket fuel blend] and methane in rocket fuel come from fossil fuels on the earth.

Instead, they use CO2 from the air, which is now biogenic since it is gathered as a byproduct of commercial alcohol plants; however, they can use CO2 from any place, including direct air capture.

Sheehan continued and said that the main driving force to electrify it in order to re-bond its molecules is carbon dioxide.

As a scientific fact, Di-Jia Liu, a senior chemist at Lemont, Illinois-based Argonne National Laboratory stated that carbon dioxide cannot be utilized as a fuel, hence, it is at the bottom of the energy hierarchy.

However, with the process of electrocatalysis or merging carbon atoms in CO2 and the hydrogen atoms in water, carbon dioxide can be transformed into hydrocarbons, such as ethanol or kerosene.

 

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