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Using carbon is key to decarbonizing the economy

Matteo Pasquali of Rice University is a chemical engineer, chemist, materials scientist and director of the Carbon Hub research initiative. Photo credit: Jeff Fitlow / Rice University

Matteo Pasquali, an expert in carbon materials from Rice University, is available to discuss ways to reduce carbon emissions and rapidly decarbonize the global economy.

Instead of burning oil and gas, hydrocarbon molecules could be broken down into hydrogen and solid carbon, says Pasquali. The hydrogen could then be used as a clean burning fuel that does not produce carbon dioxide, while the solid carbon could become an inexpensive and abundant source of high performance materials used by a variety of industries.

“Every year we pull more than 10 billion tons of carbon out of the ground in the form of oil, coal and natural gas,” says Pasquali, chemical engineer, chemist and materials scientist who runs the Carbon Hub. “This activity accounts for 7% of the world economy and we need all possible sources of hydrogen. We can keep producing these hydrocarbons as long as we don’t burn them.”

The Carbon Hub is an ambitious climate change research initiative based in Rice. It aims to use hydrocarbons as feedstock to create clean hydrogen energy and solid carbon products that can be used in place of materials with a large carbon footprint.

In an opinion paper published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Pasquali and Carl Mesters, Shell’s retired chief chemistry and catalysis scientists, discuss the transition from burning hydrocarbons to fission.

Pasquali said the technology already exists to both crack hydrocarbons and produce solid carbon materials for wide use in industry. He has been researching carbon nanotubes for almost two decades and pioneered the spinning of nanomaterials into sewable, thread-like fibers that conduct both electricity and copper.

“The know-how is there,” said Pasquali. “We can make nanotube fibers and composites that outperform metals, but we need to scale the manufacturing processes efficiently so that these materials can compete in price with metals would take over and we could eliminate metals that are now 12% of our annual global energy budget for mining Need processing and refining. “

In the PNAS paper, Pasquali and Mesters say that moving to a world where hydrocarbons are split, not burned, will create “robust growth in manufacturing jobs, most of which will remain at the local level, where oil and gas are already established “. They say that no single government or coalition of governments can make the transition. Instead, they argue that business leaders, philanthropists, government officials, scientists, and others have incentives to make the transition happen and should work together to make it happen.

“We’re in a similar position to what we were with solar a few decades ago: we know we can deliver, but manufacturing and scaling need to be improved to keep costs down,” said Pasquali. “We have to get there faster than solar energy.”

The Carbon Hub was launched in December 2019 with a $ 10 million commitment from Shell and support from Prysmian Group and Mitsubishi Corp. (America) launched. It works with industrial partners to fund and direct basic science and engineering for technologies that split hydrocarbons to produce both clean hydrogen energy and valuable carbon materials.

Carbon nanospike catalyst splits water, carbon dioxide, and recombines atoms into heavier nanocarbons

More information:
Matteo Pasquali et al, Opinion: We Can Use Carbon To Decarbonize – And Get Hydrogen For Free, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.2112089118 Provided by Rice University

citation: Expert: Using Carbon Is Key to Decarbonizing the Economy (2021 August 6), accessed August 6, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-expert-carbon-key-decarbonizing -economy.html

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