By Byron Elton
July 30, 2009
For years we’ve debated how to stop being held hostage by foreign oil, yet we continue to borrow money to buy oil from foreign dictators that don’t have our country’s nor our planet’s best interests at heart. As these concerns become more pressing, we need to find a way to harness and dispense clean energy to provide Americans with the clean energy and job opportunities they deserve.
Additionally, as regulations to meet international greenhouse gas reduction targets loom overhead, large carbon-emitting plants in Michigan, the U.S. and around the world are faced with tough decisions on what to do with their greenhouse gas emissions. If targets are not met, not only will companies will be heavily fined but eventually the damage to the planet’s ecosystems will be irreversible.
While the Obama administration has undoubtedly taken an aggressive stance toward advancing conversation on this issue, many of options being considered by the government to quell the amount of C02 being emitted into the atmosphere are on a slow timeline. Plans for FutureGen, for example, a project announced by the Bush administration in 2003, involves the construction of a near zero-emissions coal-fueled plant by using carbon capture and storage (CCS). With carbon capture and sequestration the CO2 is permanently buried underground but many questions remain unanswered: Is this safe? Whose land will it be buried in? And when will the technology be available? Many experts say not for decades. Perhaps the issue of scale is the largest concern though, as the world simply cannot hide enough CO2 to make a meaningful impact on a global scale.
Although conventional wisdom remains that CO2 will be sequestered underground, an alternative measure is gaining in popularity, working within the industrial waste stream of places like coal-fired plants to convert CO2 to fuel. This emerging sector is called “carbon recycling” and it’s quickly advancing to become a viable alternative to burying the gas underground. But how does this technology work? What does this mean for CO2 emitters? And how could transforming dangerous CO2 into usable gasoline help small businesses and general consumers?
Companies like Morphic Technologies, Mentra Venture Group and Sandia National Laboratories are all developing methods to repurpose carbon dioxide but the furthest along in the co2-to-fuel journey is a Santa Barbara, CA-based company, Carbon Sciences. While they’re not the first to convert CO2 to methane, butane and ethane - the building blocks for fuels like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel - they are the first to develop a technology that performs the process at low temperature and pressure. This is made possible by using a polymer shell that protects the biocatalysts responsible for the transformation so that they may be recycled, rather than discarded.
With a timeline that projects entry into the commercial market in about 1-year for Carbon Sciences’ CO2-to-Fuel technology, the promise carbon recycling holds for large carbon emitting plants is overwhelming. Utilities, oil refineries, quarries, and big-industry giants would be able to make money off their waste stream while reducing carbon emissions significantly by displacing new oil. Furthermore, our country’s dependence on foreign oil would be reduced increasing the security of our nations. Carbon recycling would even reduce renewable fuels that compete with food supplies around the world.
With a forecast of over 43 billion tons of annual CO2 emissions by 2030, there is an abundant supply of raw material available to produce renewable liquid fuels for global consumption and reduce our dependence on petroleum. Not only does recycling provide an efficient approach to produce renewable fuels and mitigate CO2 emissions and curb demand for imported oil, enabling energy independence, but it can provides the most direct pat the produce renewable fuels utilizing existing infrastructure, including supply chain and vehicles, to ensure cost-effective and non-disruptive deployment.
Byron Elton brings a unique blend of business experience and personal commitment to environmental ideals to his role as Chief Executive Officer at Carbon Sciences, Inc.. A veteran media and marketing executive, Elton has a proven track record of pioneering new business development strategies and building top-flight marketing teams.