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UK Startup Uses Plastic Waste As Rocket Fuel And Goes For Nuclear Fusion

A new space startup in the UK successfully test-fired a rocket that is fueled by plastic waste. Virgin Galactic had tried to use plastic waste as fuel in 2014. However, the company could not make it work and switched to other fuels rapidly.

Green space tech is on the rise as companies respond to increasing concerns over unsustainable space technology. China, Russia, and the US are developing enriched uranium nuclear space technology. Rockets use expensive and non-renewable fuels, and space debris is increasing exponentially as satellites and upper rocket stages die off in graveyard orbits. From solar sails to electric spacecraft engines, rockets that need no fuel, and satellites made out of recycled materials that disintegrate, green space tech is on the rise.

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Pulsar Fusion, a UK startup, designed and successfully tested the first launch-capable, high-power chemical rocket engine fueled by plastic waste. Pulsar explains that their green rocket uses a hybrid fuel made out of high-density polyethylene HDPE and nitrous oxide oxidizer. From detergents to plastic bottles, and toys, HDPE plastic waste is everywhere. If we can successfully harness plastic waste and turn it into a fuel source for rockets (or really anything else) it would go a long way toward giving companies added incentives to collect the waste they and their customers generate.

Photo via Pulsar Fusion. High energy plasma technology.

Pulsar has bigger ambitions than recycling plastic to fuel rockets. They are after the holy grail” of energy: nuclear fusion. While nuclear fission is used to power nuclear plants and nuclear weapons, nuclear fusion is clean energy at its peak and almost waste-free. Nuclear fusion would end the days of expensive and heavy rockets and cut down space traveling to Mars in half. No country has been able to control nuclear fusion in a spacecraft yet, but Pulsar says they are developing one.

But Pulsar is not alone, they are part of a bigger picture. The company is leading a pack of new space companies in the UK working to boost space development under the UK national space strategy. Through the national strategy, the country wants to design, launch, and operate several satellite programs. The main goal is to strengthen communications, combat climate change, and enhance scientific monitoring. More importantly, the UK faces an energy crisis that will only get worse in the future. Nuclear fusion and solar space energy plants are priorities for the country.

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Source: Pulsar/Instagram

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