This week, Elon Musk tweeted that SpaceX was starting a program to remove carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere and use it as rocket fuel.
‘Please join if interested,’ said Musk in the tweet. He also added that this program ‘will also be important for Mars’.
The tweet came after the billionaire entrepreneur was announced Time magazine’s 2021 person of the year.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is fuelled by kerosene, which emits carbon dioxide, among other chemicals, into the atmosphere, according to The Guardian.
SpaceX is starting a program to take CO2 out of atmosphere & turn it into rocket fuel. Please join if interested.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 13, 2021
Carbon dioxide, released by the combustion of fossil fuels, is the primary greenhouse gas contributing to the climate crisis.
In November, Musk awarded 23 student-led teams, $5 million as part of the Carbon Removal Student Competition. The award program, which is part of the $100 million XPRIZE for Carbon Removal supported by the Musk Foundation, was launched to fund early-stage concepts from the next generation of carbon removal innovators
Launched in April, XPRIZE Carbon Removal is a $100 million four-year global competition that invites innovators from around the world, to create and demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans.
To win the grand prize, teams must demonstrate a working solution at a scale of at least 1000 tonnes removed per year; model their costs at a scale of 1 million tonnes per year and show a pathway to achieving a scale of gigatonnes per year in future, as validated by a third party.
‘This is not a theoretical competition; we want teams that will build real systems that can make a measurable impact and scale to a gigaton level. Whatever it takes. Time is of the essence,’ said Elon Musk, in a previous statement.
This year, SpaceX beat Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin for a Nasa contract to build moon landers. SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to build rockets for space travel that could send humans to Mars.
Musk is confident that a crewed mission to the red planet could take place by the year 2026.
The new initiative to make rocket fuel would probably rely on direct air capture (DAC) technology. The world’s largest DAC facility in Iceland began operation in September and will remove 4000 tonnes annually from the air.
Musk is known for his on the fly tweets, like pledging to solve world hunger. Just last week, he tweeted that he was considering giving up his jobs and ‘becoming an influencer full-time’.
The Tesla owner has been called out for not paying his fair share of taxes to which he started a Twitter poll asking his followers if her should pay up.
‘I keep forgetting that you’re alive,’ tweeted Musk at Senator Bernie Sanders, after the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee called for the wealthy to pay more in taxes.