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Cardiff-based Space Forge, which earlier this week was hailed as Europe’s fastest-growing start-up after it achieved record-breaking funding, is seeking to harness microgravity to create products impossible to manufacture on Earth. These products could significantly help slash emissions on Earth and bring a huge boost to industries that are difficult to decarbonise, such as transport and manufacturing, according to Space Forge.
The company’s co-founder, Andrew Bacon, told Express.co.uk: “We think the best way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere is to stop it ever being generated in the first place and that means we need to make key industries like transport, communications and manufacturing more efficient, so they need less energy in the first place.
“This requires higher performance materials – it needs super strong lightweight alloys for aircraft, more conductive electronics for data centres and exotic ceramics for furnaces. In-space manufacturing offers a shortcut to the next generation of smart and efficient materials which create CO2 reduction benefits that far out-weigh the CO2 generated in their launch and manufacture.”
Space Forge is hoping to capitalise on the benefits of the space environment, microgravity, vacuum, and temperature to manufacture materials in earth’s orbit in returnable satellites.
Mr Bacon added: “The type of materials that benefit from space manufacture are those that mix/grow very slowly as these processes always go better in microgravity.
“Also, those materials that require extremely clean conditions, where contaminants are measured in the parts-per-million level, and so can make use of the ultra-vacuum that is freely available in Earth orbit.
“When you combine the two benefits, superalloys, fibre optics and semiconductors are the standout examples, but there are millions more new materials waiting to be tried out on our celestial
doorstep which would be useful in global markets.”
The company is now hoping to launch two missions where it will pilot this concept as Britain searches for new ways to slash emissions and reach its net zero targets.
Space Forge said the UK is the perfect place to set up this kind of operation due to its strong science sector.
Mr Bacon said: “Britain is a great place to start this type of company, we have a large talent pool of engineers, business people and also access to space technology development funding though companies like Innovate UK, the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency.
“Britain has been involved with every major European space mission since the inception of the European Space Agency, and that doesn’t look set to change.
“But what is changing are the new business models that British businesses are bringing to the industry.
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“This includes small satellite launchers, telecoms constellations, satellite de-orbiting and now also in-space manufacturing.“
The company has argued that the materials and products that it will produce in space will offer game-changing levels of performance and efficiency in power-hungry infrastructure and systems.
Joshua Western, CEO and co-founder of Space Forge, added: “Making space work for humanity and our planet has always been our goal and this investment enables us to build our first-generation platforms and undertake several missions in pursuit of that goal.
“We’re just getting started.”
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