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Greening the chemical industry requires massive amount of renewables

May 13, 2019 / Michael Le Page

The really hard part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions could be even more difficult than we thought. While in theory carbon dioxide captured from the air could replace fossil fuels as a feedstock for the global chemicals industry, in practice it would likely require vastly more clean electricity than we currently have.Most chemicals we use, including plastics, contain carbon, which currently comes from fossil fuels. There’s been a lot of talk about greening the chemicals industry, says Andre Barlow of Aachen University in Germany, but no one has worked exactly what it would take to do it. So his team created a bottom-up model of the industry, looking what it takes to create the basic chemical components, or feedstocks. They calculated that using carbon captured from the air as the feedstock for making chemicals could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 3.5 gigatonnes by 2030, Barlow’s team found.