North East tech firm joins UK Space Agency programme
South Shields-based MAC SciTech has developed a carbon capture system for use on long-term space exploration.
The company has now joined the UK Space Agency’s Leo programme having patented the technology which processes carbon dioxide to be used on lunar space stations, space hotels and on the surface of Mars, as well as industrial applications on earth.
“This all stems from an idea late last year when we were looking at what was happening in the world around carbon capture and space exploration,” explained Michael Maughan, who has a PhD in chemistry from the University of Durham and set up MAC SciTech in 2012.
“It has been invaluable to be accepted onto the UK Space Agency’s Leo programme as while we develop solutions for clients, we don’t have much experience in the commercialisation. The mentoring and business support from the accelerator programme has been fantastic.
“The space sector is a huge market which is growing around 10% each year and there are lots of specialist companies looking to get into manned space exploration and space hotels which could be operational by 2030.”
Its Carbon Dioxide Hydrogen Recovery System (CHRYSy) is an alternative to the MOXIE processing system used by NASA that is currently being tested on board the Perseverance Rover on Mars.
The green carbon capture processes means it can also be converted into useful chemicals found in a wide range of industrial materials, including methanol, polymers, waxes, fuels and plastics.
“We’re focusing primarily on the US and UK markets and are currently looking to find the right partners,” continued Maughan.
“There are some very big players in the carbon capture world. It is a very big issue and soon there will be glut of carbon dioxide that businesses will need to remove responsibly, so using green energy to convert into usable materials will have benefits for some of the biggest manufacturers in the world.
“It’s a little daunting and I’m sure there’s a long road ahead, but we’re very excited to launch our carbon capture system and we can’t wait to see how far this new venture can rocket.”
MAC SciTech is currently developing CHRYSy to meet the European Space Agency’s programme for Life Support System development. The system will process breathing gas or the atmosphere on Mars, and uses hydrogen, recycles water for electrolysis and the carbon monoxide produced can be made into other valuable chemicals.
The company will receive one-to-one mentoring from academics and industry specialists to help launch the system and take the business to the next level.