Carbon footprint of synthetic fuels from CO2
There are many ongoing research efforts – in academia and in corporate – for green synthesis of fuels and chemicals from CO2.
While these efforts are very likely to produce low carbon fuels (though perhaps not at low costs!), what will be of useful will be a reliable, transparent estimate of the total carbon footprint of the entire synthesis lifecycle, and thus the net CO2 emissions saved.
Sure, many processes will be powered by renewable energy, but even solar power has a non-zero carbon footprint. On a similar note, the CO2 capture process and transport might have non-zero carbon footprints as well. And so might any transport of hydrogen where applicable. I doubt every single process in the e-fuels & chemicals value chain will be powered by zero-carbon energy. And there could be embodied carbon in any large-scale infrastructure that needs to happen along the value chain (thankfully, they can use existing infra at the end user level, that’s the raison d’etre for e-fuels and chemicals in the first place!).
Perhaps all these have close-to-zero carbon footprints, but it is difficult to get reliable estimates that prove (or disprove) this hypothesis. Even this excellent analysis from The Royal Society ( https://lnkd.in/gtarUvDW ) does not provide clear estimates.
As driving down carbon is the main reason for these efforts – which are likely to incur a few trillions of $ of investments over the next decade – it will be good to have these calculations done and reliable estimates put out by project developers or solution vendors.
While that is on one hand, here’s a positive for eFuels – an interesting analysis from eFuels Alliance that suggests that the carbon footprint of electric vehicle powertrains could be a lot more if the entire lifecycle were considered, and could be comparable or even higher than IC engine vehicles – who would have thought! – https://lnkd.in/gkdB8pQA
More insights on CO2 utilization from CLIMAX – https://lnkd.in/gvDfnevp
Graham Hutchings – Cardiff University School of Engineering