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Starchaser Testing Eco-Friendly Engine

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 16, 2009
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Manchester based high technology Company Starchaser Industries will today conduct a full test firing of the environmentally friendly rocket engine it has developed using grant funding from the North West regional Development Agency (NWDA). The £130,730 award for Research and Development has been used to develop a unique eco-friendly rocket engine that will find eventual use as a safety system aboard commercial space rockets.

Specialising in the development, operation and commercialisation of space related products, Starchaser Industries has identified a unique way to develop an environmentally friendly hybrid rocket engine that will utilize “green” propellants, producing virtually no harmful emissions.

This technology can also be used aboard space launch vehicles as recovery systems to ensure the safe retrieval of astronauts in the event of an emergency situation.

The project is based upon the established practice of using hydrogen peroxide as an oxidiser, but has new elements in that the oxidiser is combined with solid fuel made from waste materials such as used car tyres. The safety aspect is a key differentiation to current technologies, potentially leading to a successful commercial future.

As well as managing a number of research and development projects, Starchaser in collaboration with the University of Salford, also has an established and highly successful Outreach Programme, working with the public and education. The Outreach team visit around 200 schools and engage with over 150,000 school children every year.

Mark Hughes, Executive Director for Enterprise and Skills at the NWDA said:

“Innovation is crucial to the region’s global competitiveness and is at the heart of the UK’s drive to ‘build and sustain a knowledge economy.’ The application of leading-edge technologies, like those demonstrated by Starchaser, help companies develop new markets, increase exports and generate additional jobs for the region.

Steven Bennett, Managing Director, at Starchaser Industries Ltd said:

“The development of an eco-friendly rocket motor system that can be employed to safeguard the lives of astronauts will showcase the very best of British endeavour and innovation. Our ultimate aim, though, is to carry tourists into space and our eco-engine takes us another step closer to realising that ambition.”

Starchaser Industries’ space tourism initiative will enable the public to purchase flights where they can personally spend 20 minutes in space and experience three to four minutes of weightlessness. Starchaser astronauts will travel at 3,500 miles per hour, see the curvature of the earth and join the likes of Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong as real space pioneers.

2 responses to “Starchaser Testing Eco-Friendly Engine”

  1. Imee M | The Aging Millennial says:

    This is very good news! I never even thought of eco-friendly engines for rockets, but this is just wow! I hope it all goes smoothly… Clean environment, more jobs and a great scientific future? What more can we all ask for?

  2. Rod Stevenson says:

    This is an interesting concept. Rubber has been used for years in rocket motor which use nitrous oxide as the oxidiser (SpaceShip X Prize winner used something along these lines). The British Black Arrow rocket used hydrogen peroxide and a catalyst. This is I believe the true eco-friendly rocket as the waste product was water.

    I studied polymer chemistry at UMIST a while ago and can remeber discusions about disposal of cat tyres by incineration.
    A typical tyre is made up as follows.
    Material % Weight
    Rubber hydrocarbon 51
    Carbon black 26
    Oil 13
    Sulphur 1
    Zinc Oxide 2
    Other chemicals* 7

    On combustion the following products are formed,
    CO2, CO, SO2, NO2, particulate matter (PM), total organic carbon (TOC), metals (As, Sb, Hg, Pb, Sn, Cd, Ni, Cr, Co, V, Tl, Cu, Mn), HF, HCl, dioxins and furans emissions.
    This list includes known greenhouse and acid rain forming gases. The heavy metals produced have links to brain disfunction.As for Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (dioxin), levels as low as 0.0000000000000001 g/square metre of air are known to cause cancer. I don’t know how using HTTP will bring about “virtually no harmful emissions”. I would like to see more details published Starchaser.

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