We know that fossil fuels are bad… but that doesn’t mean that carbon is bad…

Clearly, burning them at the current rate massively overloads Earth’s natural recycling capacity for CO2, the major contributor to the current greenhouse effect.

But most fuels in wide-spread use are based on carbon and hydrogen (even coal contains some hydrogen). So, can we simply ditch the carbon, make hydrogen via natural energy and switch everything over to a hydrogen economy? Sounds tempting, given that simple water is the major emission product when hydrogen burns in air. So, is hydrogen the „perfect“ fuel? Explore that question more here for the chemistry, and here for the storage and distribution infrastructure.

Countless things in every-day life are made from carbon compounds…

Carbon compounds are so ubiquitous that we hardly register the fact anymore. However, it is witness to the enormous flexibility of carbon to make substances with countless useful qualities. We cannot do this with any other element.

Carbon compounds as fuel have enormous advantages as long as they’re not fossil…

From energy density — which is very high compared with batteries — to convenience of very long-term storage in simple infrastructures… Carbon has very important features as an energy carrier — specifically a hydrogen carrier. Yes, energy efficiencies are still not great, but the recyclability is extremely high. We would be deluded to think that we can reach such a good compromise on the whole with other energy carriers.

Further reading:

> List of substances and materials made of carbon compounds

Copyright Andrew Moore 2024