Across various sectors, businesses are realising that getting to net zero might be considerably harder than they initially assumed
As always, a wonderfully insightful article.
But I hope you won’t mind my saying that there is another really important point about crude oil (haven’t got to that chapter yet, so forgive me if you cover it). That is that crude oil is a highly complex mixture of different compounds or fractions. We all know that. But we don’t often focus on the key implication, which is that so long as there is irreplaceable demand for one or two of those fractions that can’t be substituted by a non-fossil source, the oil will still be needed. And once drilled, it will still be separated into all of its constituent fractions. And then something will have to be done with the ones we don’t want (even if they now make up 90%+ of the mix). And the cheapest thing to do will almost always be either to use the other fractions as we do now or, gulp, to burn them (if we can). Even if you can pump them back underground, you will have dramatically altered the economics of the product you still need and made it massively more expensive....
Sorry if this is obvious to you, but I’m convinced that it’s not obvious to most people.
' Using the best rare earth metal motor' - of course the best motors today do not need to use rare earth metals. The sustainable solution is to use an alternative technology from Advanced Electric Machines based in Washington, United Kingdom. https://advancedelectricmachines.com/ This requires more advanced electronics and can also be designed without the use of copper.
Priorities, priorities! And meanwhile the footprint of all that R&D? Perhaps lego will be an heirloom toy! Thinking of useful heirlooms, belatedly our local rural water grid has been replaced with hard but sufficiently bendy plastic. It came in large rolls handled easily by a tractor, and was laid in prompt and efficient manner for domestic and multi-farm use. My guess is that it will last probably 10 times longer than the seriously degraded metal and asbestos/cement. As the 'easy' energy shrinks down it could give those in the next 2 or 3 centuries a bit of time to think about their use of water? (Thinks about Roman aquaducts in Europe, not begun to be replaced until canals in the early industrial take-off? And canals moved coal!)
I don't understand why we need to stop using fossil fuels as raw materials for stable products like ABS. If the process produces a lot of CO2, yes, that's contributing to climate change. And yes, eventually we will run out of fossil fuels. But for now the carbon in the ABS itself is locked up tight and can't cause any problems.
Very interesting. Very true. The actionable, as often, is let's start with the low-hanging fruit (EVs, heat pumps, renewables to 50% of energy) - because we're still a long way from there. Some technologies are still missing, and even more uncertainties on whether the obvious required politics will be voted through the maize of established, obsolete but powerful special interests.
We can focus net zero later.
Another informative and highly interesting article.
Acrylonitrile was (and still is, I think) produced at Teesside, where the hydrogen cyanide by-product was transported by the tanker load! Too bad if one of those got breached!
I am a firm believer in the need to get to net zero. I also worked in the oil industry for over thirty years, not as a petroleum or chemical engineer but as a lawyer. From my vantage point (including GC of the European operation of a very large company) I was able to grasp the huge range of products and activities derived from/dependant on petroleum. I am writing this to support you in your comment that we have not begun to realise how complex getting to net zero (and “”stopping oil”) is going to be. That does not in any way (to repeat myself) take away from the urgent, vital need to do so, it is just that public understanding of the issues you so ably describe is absolutely dire. You really are doing something very important in chipping away at that ignorance
The solution is to reserve oil and gas for essentials. This doesn't include Lego. Replace with Meccano.
Air travel is very unessential.
Shipping goods around the world is unessential.
Heating is not essential if water solar and wind replace it.
You will know others
However as a phycisist who has studied climate change for years I strongly believe it's too late already.
And net zero doesn't stop the climate warming....