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No, you don't have to worry about SpaceX Mars emissions



October 30, 2019 by Harry Stolz


  Space X Harry Stolz

Photo by Harry Stolz

No, you don't have to worry about Mars emissions on a SpaceX rocket. It's a green machine, actually.

In my last article in reporting on the SpaceX update to my Mars rocket, Starship, I read a lot of concerned comments about the environmental impact that such a system can cause.

At present, we are not sure exactly how much space flight represents total greenhouse gas emissions per year, but there is consensus that a very small number would be several orders of magnitude less than 1

%. Although not zero, this is an extremely negligible amount, especially when compared to emissions due to agriculture (~ 24%) and energy production (~ 25%). However, the worry is that this number will increase "astronomically" as repeated use of rockets lowers prices and launches more and more frequently.

In addition, SpaceX plans to take over the airline industry and use Starship for point-to-point transportation here. on the ground. At face value, it looks like it can be catastrophic to the environment, but don't worry! When I attended the SpaceX event late last month, they revealed their plan to produce clean fuel.

The idea is that Starship will non-standard work on methane and oxidant. One reason SpaceX chooses methane (CH4) for fuel is because it can easily be produced on Mars as well as on Earth. (It's worth noting, however, that methane is incredibly abundant on earth, so SpaceX probably won't have to produce it here.) During the presentation, SpaceX CEO Ilon Musk gave a brief summary of the process they would use, but let clarify a few details.

  Space X Harry Production Plan

Illustration by Harry Stolz

To create oxygen and methane fuel on Mars, SpaceX will need to collect water and carbon dioxide. Mars' atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide and frozen water is plentiful on the pillars, making them both relatively easy to collect. They will then separate the water into hydrogen and oxygen gas through a process known as electrolysis. Electrolysis is naturally energy intensive, which is the place of their plan for using solar energy. They will then add hydrogen gas to the carbon dioxide that they have collected from either Mars or Earth, and then release it through something called the Sebatier Process, which will produce methane and water as a by-product. The only thing left is to damage methane and oxygen through a cryogenic system, and the rocket has all the fuel it needs!

Because SpaceX will use solar energy to provide energy to extract carbon dioxide from both the Earth and Mars, this would reduce emissions here on our planet, as well as change the atmosphere of Mars. Furthermore, when the fuel is burned, it releases water and carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, leaving both open to memory. SpaceX can theoretically recycle the same materials over and over again without generating net emissions! With this approach, SpaceX has essentially developed a carbon-neutral propulsion system, which is something that will become a vital asset in the future.

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Labels: CO2 Emissions, Space, Space, SpaceX Carbon Emissions, Star Ship


About the Author

Harry Stolt Harry Stoltz is an aspiring Organic Chemist student and at the California Institute of Technology. He is fascinated by the latest technologies and a clean future. Harry is a leading space correspondent for CleanTechnica and also writes about clean energy, self-driving cars and battery technology. You can find Harry on Twitter @ harrystoltz1 .




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