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Will This Carbon-Neutral Rocket Fuel Save the World?

Written by Alex Koyfman
Posted December 16, 2021

When I was a kid, I remember one of the things that would really grind my gears was hearing other little kids talking about how fast the SR-71 Blackbird was.

"Faster than a bullet," was a phrase that they liked to throw around — and it was actually true, despite how hyperbolic it sounds.

The SR-71's top speed of 2,455 miles per hour (3,600 feet per second) made it about 20% faster than the muzzle velocity of a standard 5.56mm rifle bullet — the standard issue NATO battlefield cartridge.

So why did hearing these proclamations of greatness anger me? Because the SR-71, fast as it was, was nowhere near the fastest.

That honor went to a lesser-known, far less beloved, and far less beautiful aircraft: the X-15.

Operated by NASA and the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s and '70s, the X-15's top speed was an astonishing 4,520 miles per hour, or 1.25 miles per second.

In order to achieve and sustain speeds like that, it also had to fly almost four times higher than the SR-71. So high, in fact, that several of its pilots were awarded astronaut's wings.

If you want to see one for yourself, you can. The one at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., still bears the scorch marks of its hypersonic dashes through the sky above the Nevada desert.

x15

 

The X-15 differs from your traditional airplane in a few ways.

First of all, it didn't take off from a runway. Instead, to minimize the fuel requirements of having to start from zero altitudes and zero speed, the X-15 was dropped from the belly of a B-52 bomber (just like a cruise missile) and immediately ascended into the thin air of the stratosphere to execute its high-speed run.

The differences don't end there.

In place of air-breathing jet engines, the X-15 got its motivation from two liquid-fueled rocket motors, which produced 57,000 pounds of thrust.

Powered flight lasted less than two minutes, during which time the X-15 would add about 4,000 mph to its speed and between 70,000 and 300,000 feet to its altitude, bringing it to the very edge of space.

Finally, when it came time to land, the X-15 glided to the earth and deployed skis instead of landing gear to coast to a stop on whatever flat patch of desert was available.

It'd Pass Your SR-71 Like You're Standing Still

All of these idiosyncrasies were there for a reason: to optimize performance.

It first flew in 1959, and in 1967, with William J. Knight at the controls, the X-15 hit Mach 6.7, or 4,520 mph, at an altitude of 102,000 feet to take the record for fastest flight in a powered, manned aircraft.

Had the SR-71 been flying alongside the X-15 on that day, it would have been overtaken at a speed differential of almost 2,100 mph.

During high-altitude flights of the early '60s, the X-15 flew so high that five of the Air Force pilots who participated in testing were awarded astronaut wings.

Much about the machine is unique and amazing but perhaps nothing more so than the fuel that took it to those heights and speeds.

The X-15's principal fuel is a chemical you probably associate more closely with household cleaners: ammonia.

Yet despite its decidedly unglamorous reputation, ammonia is actually an incredibly versatile, potent, and environmentally friendly energy source.

It's highly stable and therefore not explosive under normal conditions, and after it's burned, the only byproduct is water vapor.

And it doesn't just work for military planes and rockets. With minor modifications, any of today's mass-produced internal combustion engines can be set up to burn ammonia while retaining all of the same benefits.

Sounds like one of those too-good-to-be-true stories, but it's true. Ammonia fuel is so clean that its exhaust can be cooled and safely sipped from a glass... and yet still deliver enough power to bring airplanes to the edge of space.

So what's the catch? If it's so great, why isn't ammonia our primary fuel for the consumer and commercial markets instead of gasoline?

Ammonia, up until very recently, was a problem to produce en masse. It was an expensive process that left behind toxic remnants and made its production in the volumes necessary to sustain an energy market simply not feasible.

But all of that is now about to change.

Meet Gasoline 2.0

There is a new technology on the radar now that's about to change the paradigm.

It's an already-patented ammonia production process that's currently undergoing trials in a series of progressively larger production facilities.

The benefits over the current standard are as simple as they are dramatic. Ammonia can now be produced using nothing more than water, air, and electricity, and it can be done at a final cost lower than that of gasoline or diesel.

These two improvements to the production process instantly give ammonia the potential to compete in the $3 trillion-per-year global fossil fuel market.

In five–10 years, your local filling station could be dispensing this stuff right alongside gasoline. In another five–10 years, it could dispense only this stuff, with gas and diesel a distant memory.

Ammonia's potential for transforming the world goes further than just powering our various modes of transportation.

With production now requiring only the most basic raw materials, ammonia can actually be produced by wind and solar farms as a method for storing energy during high-production, low-demand periods.

Right now, when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, but nobody is home running their washing machines, lithium-ion batteries are used to soak up excess kilowatts. In the future, ammonia production facilities could be adapted to produce and store ammonia to either sell or transform back into electricity during peak-demand hours by using that ammonia to run a carbon-free generator.

Trading Electrons for Fuel and Back Again

The potential is so great it's hard to fully quantify... but it's safe to say that by the middle of the century, we could easily be running on an ammonia-dependent economy.

The company that holds the patent came into existence, in its present form, for the sole purpose of bringing this technology to the mass market.

It's so new that it started trading under its current ticker symbol just two weeks ago.

Since then, the stock has already nearly doubled.

But even with the incredible attention it has received from the investment community, this company still barely cracks a $40 million market capitalization.

In other words, it's an embryo — a tiny speck compared with the giant market its technology could be commanding in the coming years.

It's one of the most fascinating and prospective investment stories I've seen in years, and because the opportunity here is so new and so volatile, I had to rush a research report and presentation through production to get it in front of your eyes before the stock ran away.

Get all the information now... or wait another day and watch the stock go up another 25%.

The choice is yours. Enter here for instant access.

Fortune favors the bold,

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Alex Koyfman

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His flagship service, Microcap Insider, provides market-beating insights into some of the fastest moving, highest profit-potential companies available for public trading on the U.S. and Canadian exchanges. With more than 5 years of track record to back it up, Microcap Insider is the choice for the growth-minded investor. Alex contributes his thoughts and insights regularly to Wealth Daily. To learn more about Alex, click here.

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