European Space Energy awards funding to bioLPG fuelled rocket project

Friday 26th March 2021

One of two Scotland-based space companies which have received £8.5 million under the European Space Agency to take pioneering launch technologies to market, is being fuelled by bioLPG.

Orbex, an orbital launch services company based in Forres near Inverness, has been awarded over £6 million, to support development of their innovative Prime launch vehicle which will launch small satellites into orbit from Space Hub Sutherland in 2023.

Prime is fuelled by bio-propane, a clean-burning, renewable fuel which reduces CO2 emissions by 90% compared to kerosene-based fuels and has been designed to leave zero debris in orbit around the Earth. The Prime rocket is being built in Orbex’s Forres design and manufacturing site which currently employs 40 people and is looking to expand further to cater for the growing market for UK launch.

Both companies, based in Scotland, received the funding under the European Space Agency’s Boost! initiative and will use the money to develop their world-leading launch technologies further and bring them to market. This will support government’s vision for the UK to be at the global forefront of the commercial small satellite launch market.

Not only used in rockets, bio-propane, also known as bioLPG can be used for heating homes and businesses, as well as industrial processes. bioLPG can provide up to 90% carbon emissions reduction and carries all the same air quality benefits as LPG, with very low NOx, SOx and Particulate Matter (PM).

Available in the UK now, bioLPG is chemically indistinct from LPG and so can be used as it is, just like conventional LPG. This means it can be 'dropped-in' to existing supply chains without the need to modify existing infrastructure or LPG gas appliances.

The LPG Industry set an ambition to transition to 100% renewable fuels by 2040, so anyone switching to LPG today has a clear pathway to Net Zero.

The trade association for the LPG and bioLPG industry in the UK