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Calor’s renewable futuria liquid gas to propel rockets into space

Calor, the UK’s leading supplier of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), has agreed an exclusive partnership to see its Futuria Liquid Gas (previously BioLPG) fuel the first full-scale microlauncher rocket developed in Europe.

The project, which is being led by Orbex, a UK-based launch services company, will see Calor exclusively supply Futuria Liquid Gas as the primary fuel partner for its Prime rocket.

Prime is powered by the first commercial 3D printed rocket engines designed to work with Futuria Liquid Gas (biopropane), a clean-burning, renewable fuel source that cuts carbon emissions significantly compared to fossil hydrocarbon fuels. A recent study by the University of Exeter found that the carbon footprint of launching the new Orbex Prime space rocket will be up to 96 per cent* lower than comparable space launch programmes – the result of almost entirely eliminating black carbon emissions.

As part of the agreement, Calor has installed bulk tanks at its test site in Kinloss to supply its Futuria Liquid Gas to Orbex during testing. To further support the project, Calor is also providing ongoing technical support which will help the Orbex team to work towards their first launch.

Matthew Hickin, CEO, Calor said: “This is an exciting and novel partnership, and we look forward to working with Orbex as they develop Prime for its first launch from the Scottish Highlands. We introduced Futuria Liquid Gas to the UK market to start taking our home and business customers on a journey to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint, so we are delighted to extend Futuria Liquid Gas’s applications to space flight! The introduction of Futuria Liquid Gas into the UK is part of our ambition that, by 2040, 100% of our energy products will come from renewable sources.”

With the installation of the Calor tanks and launch platform now complete, the Orbex test site allows for full ‘dress rehearsals’ of launch procedures to take place in advance of the first launch from Orbex’s home spaceport, Space Hub Sutherland.

The Orbex team will conduct a range of tests including the testing of the main propellant tanks and multi-engine hot fire testing under vertical firing conditions. The facilities also enable the launch operations team to test launch procedures including launch vehicle rollout, strongback erection and fuelling procedures.

Chris Larmour, CEO, Orbex commented: “Minimising the environmental impact of launches was a key consideration in Prime’s design. As well as being a low-mass and low-carbon launcher, using a single renewable fuel, such as Futuria Liquid Gas, will play a huge part in cutting Prime’s carbon emissions by up to 96 per cent when compared to other launch vehicles using traditional hydrocarbon fuels. We look forward to working with Calor and its technical team.”

Futuria Liquid Gas is available as a drop-in alternative to conventional LPG for home, forklift truck and hospitality business energy use across the UK, typically those situated away from the natural gas grid. As Futuria Liquid Gas is chemically identical to conventional propane, it can be used in existing LPG systems with no modification necessary.