Why the world has been being missing physical Carbon recycling so far!

As long as the world had been singularly using and disposing Carbon at levels below our planet’s metabolic capabilities Nature could take care of the left overs without noticeable global consequences. Evidence of other air pollutants than Carbon-dioxide were more attended and early watchers of rising atmospheric Carbon stock levels had been drowned by evolutionary fluctuation cycle reasoning.

Economically an oil price of ≥ U$ 30 per barrel at no additional Carbon abatement cost for its use however triggers the economics of Physical Carbon Recycling. But that threshold had only been surpassed and maintained about ten years ago. During times of even two times that crude oil price several chemical Carbon recycling concepts could validate feasibility. One of the very first even happened in my home country Austria, based on transforming wood into liquid fuels. Another one was inglorious Choren venture in Germany.

Ever since the US Department of Defense had taken the subject matter issue a step beyond just wood feedstock and supported the development of transforming non compostable organic waste into liquid fuel chemical recycling of Carbon from especially plastic trash has reached a generally applicable state of art. Canadian company Enerkem remarkably succeeded in reproducing industrial scale Technology for waste valorization competitive with secondary resource incineration practices misnamed Zero Waste in Europe! At current arms’ length pricing for Methanol the tonne solid carbonaceous feedstock of 20GJ/tonne calorific value can be transformed into U$ 85.- approximately or U$ 4.20/GJ. In case of Waste to Energy so popular in Europe compares: 30.6kWhel + 193kWhth per GJMSW; at arms’ length U$ 0.03/ kWhel+ 0.01/ kWhth => U$ 2.85/GJ feedstock, ⅔ of the Enerkem benchmark only.

In physical Carbon Recycling 1kg of Captured Carbon for Re-Use could replace up to 2.1 liters of crude oil which at current oil prices around U$ 50 per barrel would translate to U$ 0.65/kg recovered physical Carbon. Depending on the Carbon rate contained in the feedstock as well as how the Hydrogen byproduct is being used, a tonne of organic Municipal Solid Residues may allow to recover 175 – 300kg per tonne. At equal feedstock physical Carbon Recycling could deliver 2.3 times the output value of chemical Recycling to Methanol. Basically that means physical Carbon Recycling has an oil price flexibility down to U$ 22/bbl and a very steep upside in case of crude oil prices rising beyond U$ 50/bbl taking the Enerkem benchmarks as reference basis.

Physical Carbon Capture for multiple Re-Use clearly is a Carbon-Efficiency enabler Technology. Without Recycling Carbon, Carbon-Efficiency can only be distinguished by the Hydrogen to Carbon ratio of a fuel. When Re-Using Recycled Carbon Carbon-Efficiency can be further leveraged if used with a Recycling loop cascade. In power generation from Substitute Natural Gas [SNG] the leverage is in the order of factor 1.8. If combined with e.g. excess wind electricity electrolysis Hydrogen the leverage goes up to 5 at 2 times the energy storage efficiency of today’s latest state of the art Power to Gas concepts.

Therefore who ever may consider to go beyond current leading edge solutions also quite recent only, can reduce his commercial risks going forward by taking a further innovation step’s risk. From my life time experience as a semiconductor physics engineer I can only share that innovation risks have always been more manageable than the resilience of market assumptions and that Technology Leaders usually became Market Leaders whether by large players changing disruptively or by start-ups overleaping the crowd

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