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☁️ "Intelligent Decarbonisation"

Climate 21

Photo by Josh Riemer / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Tom Raftery
Guest: Markus Kraft | Director | Cambridge Centre for Advanced Research and Education in Singapore (CARES)
Category: ☁️ Carbon Reduction

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:21] “CARES ha[s] a big research program going. […] Decarbonisation is a bit of an unfortunate name for trying to reduce the amount of CO2 base from fossil fuels and out of our economy, because carbon is still an important molecule and it will also be an important molecule once we have got rid of all the CO2 from fossil fuels. So there are different ways of dealing with it. And we look at all of these different pathways […]. So the first thing you can do is to use low carbon or carbon neutral fuels. So we do some fuel research that investigates this. And a low carbon fuel could be a biofuel and the various versions of it. It could be a synthetic fuel, for example, it could be hydrogen, it could be methanol. It could be a biofuel made of algae. It could be sort of a mix between the two. So what type of fuel is the fuel of the future? And here, the ultimate question is, can we produce a low carbon fuel at cost that is competitive with diesel or petrol? That is the key challenge. […] And of course, do we have enough resources to produce this huge on scale?”

[5:30] “Another one is to capture carbon, to separate it from the exhaust, and then do something with it. You can either then store it or utilize it […]. So we have one program where we take CO2 and try to turn it into either fuels or high quality products that sell for a higher price. This is in terms of technology readiness levels at quite a low level […]. The third portion brings me to increasing efficiency of how we use energy at the moment. And this in turn brings me to digitalization. And the big question here is, can we use digitalization and artificial intelligence to reduce or increase the efficiency with which we use our energy?”

[9:10] “Hydrogen technology in a way is a good thing. But it is much more practical if you look at a hydrocarbon molecule. There is a reason why we love fossil fuels so much. Reason number one is, it's versatile, it can be used for almost anything, and it's really almost a sin to combust it only because you can also use it for commodity chemicals and so on. […] And then, it has a wonderful energy density. […] Hydrocarbon fuels [also] have a very high energy density and that is beautiful. They also come in liquid forms, which means it can be very easily transported. This is the reason why if you go to a petrol station, you can fill up your tank so quickly. And this is one of the problems with electric cars, where you have the charging problem of batteries. And we need to address this problem. There are many reasons why you should use an electric car, but the speed of charging is not one of them.”

[11:53] “I believe that [battery] technology in future will still have some room to improve even more. Maybe the battery technology will make such progress that we can even fly airplanes with batteries. But I don't think this is around the corner. But we should not discard it completely. Battery research, in my view, and energy storage in general is extremely important.”

[28:05] “If you look at governments’ research programs, you will find one on decarbonisation and you will find one on digitalization all over the world. And the question is, how do these fields connect to one another? So in the book “Intelligent Decarbonization”, we contacted people from academia, but also from different types of industries and NGOs. We also have about 10 interviews with leaders in the field […] to give you different perspectives on this. […] The combination of artificial intelligence [and] decarbonisation comes in many shapes or forms. One thing we also address is […] the existential risks of AI.”

[33:25] “Climate change needs to be addressed. This is not a joke. We need to really focus our research efforts, but also policymaking to make bigger steps towards not using fossil fuel. Because […] whether or not we are successfully doing something to mitigate climate change lies in the answer to the question, are we using less fossil fuel than before. And the answer must be we are not using any fossil fuel. Only then […] we are making progress. Okay. And this is going to be super hard, because […] fossil fuel is too good to be true. It has super nice properties and has been gone through the biorefinery of nature for free. […] If you want to be successful, we need policies that change the economics of our processes.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 41 min | 🗓️ 12/15/2021
✅ Time saved: 39 min

Additional Links:
Book: “Intelligent Decarbonisation” (2022)