Having participated in a recent Horizon2020 Research & Innovation Partnering Meeting with our CO₂-free Hydrogen production form Methane being the key to physical Carbon Recycling, I found myself an alien between the topics Circular Economy that so far not covers Carbon Circularity, Energy that somehow sets aside the Chemical Industry’s needs and Bio-Economy EU Horizon subordinates as a discipline of “Life-Science”. So I raised the question to A Bio-Horizon National Contact Point representative from the Research Center Jülich. Before the end of the event she shared the link of a definition with me, showing the following:
“Bio-Economy covers the production and utilization of organic resources (including knowledge) to provide products, processes and services to all sectors of economy framing a sustainable eco-system. Thinking bio-economically means understanding the cycles of Nature to not only use for Energy, food, paper and textile or even chemistry and pharmacy but also conserve them environmentally and for resource security.
Letting micro-organisms produce stuff for households or industry given as example! This could replace energy intensive, climate- and environment threatening manufacturing processes. Bio-economy testifies a rethinking process, already having started in industrial and economy sectors. Be it a replacement of certain chemicals by organic substances that better comply with environmental regulations, or consumers asking for products more compatible with Nature like for example non-fossil plastic LEGO blocks.
German Bio-Economy council further thinks that a shift to sustainable Bio-Economy needs incentives, suitable for convincing enterprises of not just using the Nature but rather to intend preserving it as a source for healthy life for this and the succeeding generations.”
So except for understanding Nature to build organic matter from Carbon atoms with those of Water, to which Carbotopia can break residues down again as chemically highly pure Intermedia nothing of the definition covers recovery of Carbon for re-Use. Although our transformation consumes just less than 25% of the end of life cycle bio-energy content, no example of bio-economy definition can be related to Carbon Recycling! Neither does Circular Economy which so far totally skips the resource Carbon. In contrast it just deals with inorganic matter that understandably isn’t part of bio-economy.
Although Plastics could become regenerative materials, if produced from recycled Carbon or as bio-plastics, Carbon recycled from trash we have to admit for the time being to not solely comprise of organic Carbon! On the other hand this doesn’t seem to be an issue in case the fossil plastics when fed to microbes co-producing roughly 40% polymer : 60% Biomass usable as a fossil Carbon re-use source make so called bio-plastics.
From a circular economy point of view 40% waste plastics‘ liquefaction in a 60% crude oil suspension delivering regularly distillable oil fractions for state of the art Diesel, Gasoline and petrochemical light fractions‘ distillates actually represents just a temporary postponement of atmospheric CO₂ stock level increasing disposal into air. It represents a 40% crude oil re-use. Under increasingly challenging oil exploration resulting in a shift from heavier oil fractions predominating in sweet oil, towards increased lighter fractions. It would hence be awkward not to utilize plastics‘ liquefaction to get enough Diesel distillate again. Plastics industry however progresses very little from such crude oil re-use „achievement“.
In contrast 50% of Recyclable Carbon from global Municipal Solid household Waste, admittedly containing 20-25% fossil Carbon can cover today’s worldwide Carbon feedstock need by Plastics Industry. So Plastics could become a fully repeatable material at 100% crude oil substitution. But by taking plastic’s Carbon circular actually would keep 50% of the Carbon content stored in Grave-to-Cradle matter repetitively over several down-cycling cascades‘ product life cycles.