Musk Plans to Convert Greenhouse Gas Into Rocket Fuel

Musk Plans to Convert Greenhouse Gas Into Rocket Fuel elon musk points up and to the left Space X CEO Elon Musk (Chris Carlson/AP)

By Nick Koutsobinas | Monday, 20 December 2021 10:29 PM

Space X CEO Elon Musk says his company plans to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into rocket fuel.

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

The announcement, he adds, "will also be important for Mars" as it would take advantage of the Martian atmosphere as a potential source for fuel — a necessary step for the long journey back home. Arizona State University reports the Martian atmosphere is already "95% carbon dioxide."

And back home, scientists are already in the process of converting Earth's CO2 into useable fuel. According to Popular Mechanics, Air Company's chief technology officer and co-founder Stafford Sheehan explains, "right now, the hydrocarbons that make up both RP-1 [the same rocket fuel blend used in Space X's Falcon 9] and methane in rocket fuel come from fossil fuels in the ground." But, "we make those hydrocarbons," he adds, "using CO2 from the air instead."

"Our CO2 supply is presently biogenic, as it is captured as the byproduct of industrial alcohol plants; however, we can use CO2 from anywhere, including direct air capture."

"For rocket fuel specifically, if our CO2-based fuel was used in a rocket launch, we would prevent 715 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere," Sheehan added.