Under the terms of the new deal, Calor will supply Orbex with its BioLPG solution, a clean-burning propane produced from renewable feedstocks such as plant and vegetable waste material. This reduces CO2 emissions by as much as 80% when compared to sourcing conventional, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from fossil sources.
Calor will also install BioLPG tanks and related infrastructure at the Orbex Launchpad Test Platform (LTP) facility currently being constructed at a dedicated test site close to the Orbex headquarters in Forres, Scotland. The test site is expected to be fully operational by early 2022, paving the way for Orbex to launch Prime from Spaceport Sutherland in the North of Scotland later in the year.
The use of Calor’s BioLPG instead of conventional rocket fuels such as refined fossil kerosene products such as Rocket Propellent-1 (RP-1) is a key element in Orbex’s mission to make Prime the world’s most environmentally friendly space rocket. A recent study by the University of Exeter found that a single Orbex Prime launch would produce up to 96 % lower emissions than a similar-sized launch vehicle powered by fossil fuels – the result of almost entirely eliminating black carbon emissions.
Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, said, “Environmental sustainability is built into the heart of Prime and we are proud to be the first commercial orbital space launch company to use a renewable, carbon-friendly fuel. The partnership with Calor – one of the UK’s most well-known brands – to use its BioLPG solution is an important step on our mission to develop a fully sustainable solution that avoids the massive carbon emissions profiles of old-fashioned fossil fuelled launches still being deployed by many rocket companies today."
Alastair Lovell, Head of Sustainable Fuels at Calor, said, “Calor is delighted to partner with Orbex in such an exciting project as orbital space launch. Orbex is clearly leading the industry with sustainable solutions in the same way that Calor is leading the way in providing low carbon energy solutions for off-grid customers. This partnership demonstrates our shared values of reducing carbon emissions and we are proud to be able to supply BioLPG to achieve this goal.”
Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company with headquarters, production and testing facilities in Scotland, and design and testing facilities in Denmark. Orbex staff members have professional backgrounds with NASA, ESA, Ariane and several commercial spaceflight organizations. The company is now funded by two of the UK’s largest and most active venture capital funds, BGF and Octopus Ventures, who join two of Europe’s largest venture capital funds, Heartcore Capital and the High-Tech Gründerfonds, as well as strategic investor Elecnor, parent company of Deimos Space, the UK Space Agency (UKSA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission Horizon 2020 program.