Former SpaceX Engineers Innovate ‘Vegetarian Rocket Engine’ to Combat Climate Change

Brad Hartwig, a former aerospace engineer at SpaceX, has embarked on a mission grounded in terrestrial concerns: combating climate change. Hartwig’s journey from building rockets to founding Arbor, a startup focused on carbon dioxide removal, reflects a unique convergence of expertise and environmental stewardship.

From Rockets to Climate Tech: Hartwig’s career trajectory began with a passion for aerospace engineering, leading him to contribute to SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft’s engines. However, his ambition extended beyond engineering for space exploration; he aspired to become an astronaut himself. Despite his pursuit of space dreams, Hartwig’s interest in environmental sustainability led him to pivot towards climate technology.

Innovative Solution: Arbor’s pioneering approach involves converting waste biomass into syngas, a process reminiscent of rocket propulsion. This syngas is then combusted with pure oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, which is subsequently captured and utilized to generate electricity. Hartwig aptly dubs this technology a “vegetarian rocket engine,” drawing parallels between aerospace engineering and climate innovation.

Applying Rocket Technology to Climate Solutions: Hartwig’s tenure at SpaceX provided invaluable insights and methodologies applicable to Arbor’s endeavors. The utilization of turbo machinery and cryogenic oxygen distillers, reminiscent of rocket propulsion systems, underscores the intersection of aerospace and environmental technologies. Moreover, Hartwig’s experience in disaster response highlighted the potential of biomass derived from forest-thinning practices as a renewable fuel source for Arbor’s power plants.

Convergence of Expertise: Arbor’s genesis exemplifies the fusion of Hartwig’s diverse skill set, combining aerospace engineering, environmental consciousness, and entrepreneurial spirit. His transition from space exploration to climate innovation showcases the versatility and adaptability of engineering expertise in addressing pressing global challenges.

Impact and Future Prospects: Arbor’s innovative approach holds promise for mitigating carbon emissions and advancing sustainable energy solutions. By repurposing biomass waste into clean energy, Arbor exemplifies the potential for technological innovation to combat climate change and foster environmental sustainability.

Conclusion: Brad Hartwig’s journey from building rockets to developing a ‘vegetarian rocket engine’ for climate solutions encapsulates the transformative potential of interdisciplinary collaboration and entrepreneurial vision. As Arbor continues to pioneer sustainable energy solutions, Hartwig’s pioneering spirit underscores the importance of leveraging expertise from diverse fields to tackle the pressing challenges of our time.


Allen holds a Master's degree in English Literature and boasts seven years of experience as a content writer. Specializing in Entertainment, Sports, and the latest news, he excels in crafting compelling narratives that captivate audiences. Allen's expertise in language and storytelling ensures that his content is both informative and engaging.

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