Blog : What about Carb(on)s
The decarbonization – recarbonization paradox
Carbs are for a lot of foodies what carbon is for the world. We have grown a strong addiction towards fossil carbon while we know it is not the best to use for the health of our world. The world needs to rehab from this addiction, very fast. However if we are not going to use fossil forms of carbon anymore, what else can provide the energy to move forward?
Coal, oil and gas are the bad guys that create an unhealthy world because of the CO2 that is formed from carbon after its use. This is why we need to get away from this addiction and the way to do this is called: Decarbonization.
The most common way is to get used to using renewable electricity for the processes where we currently apply gas ( like in house heating ) and Oil ( like in personal mobility ). The examples like applying heat pumps for the residential heating as well as e-mobility is well noticed. Tesla’s share prices go through the roof and the commercials on heat pumps are a new item on the radio. For larger vehicles like trucks, heavy duty vehicles, and barges hydrogen is often quoted as the solution, while for deep sea shipping ammonia as a carbon free fuel looks like the best alternative. All these developments are ongoing as we speak and are technically feasible, though financially difficult to make competitive to our fossil addictions. But compare the issue of carbon to carbs, which are also cheap, and you will see that people are willing to go for the more expensive but healthier replacements and solutions. These developments have the potential to reduce the volume of coal, oil and gas to a great extent, and it is supposed to be a matter of time that green Hydrogen companies will have a higher stock value than the oil majors, just like how Tesla outperforms the major car companies at this moment.
However, in applications where carbon is required for its chemical properties, one cannot replace the carbon that easily. For plastics, fibres, and most other chemicals and pharmaceuticals, carbon is the backbone. When carbon cannot come from a convenient fossil source the pathway is less clear compared to decarbonizing the world. This is where the term ‘recarbonizing’ comes into play.
Recarbonization of the industry could take place through a so called circular economy. So what the hydrogen economy could bring for decarbonization, circularity will bring for the recarbonization. The good news is that the majority of fossil products are used for heating and transport and the minority for chemicals. So the quantity to recarbonize is 10-20% of the current fossil carbon use. It is imaginable that a majority of the carbon becomes circular, through mechanical recycling and especially chemical recycling of mixed plastic waste into feedstock oils for the remaining refineries and the current steam crackers. The minority of the carbon that is not circular could be retrieved from biomass. This way the decarbonization – recarbonization paradox can be solved and Brightlands is an excellent place to grow these Carbs.