Saturday, June 3, 2017

New Value Chain for Carbon


[Picture: Carbon atom.] 

Let's talk about carbon and value creation for a moment. Which is economically more interesting: $30 for a tank of fuel, or $30,000 for the same tank filled with printer ink? Both are distillations of complex hydrocarbons. Once you burn hydrocarbons as fuel, they are gone. Alternative: hydrocarbons are the best material and substrate for additive and distributed manufacturing and a 3D-printed world. When used this way carbon remains sequestered and the hydrocarbon extractors and producers get a higher value for what they make as is the case for printer ink... and you can own the molecules and materials in perpetuity. Example: I really don't need the plastic lenses in my eyeglasses forever, I need them as long as the prescription lasts or the lenses are clear and useable. I should be renting them and then giving them back for a new use after I'm done with them - cradle to cradle; circular economy. Extracted material from the earth is called a "wasting asset" in accounting - wasting by not being extracted and used. In this new view, the real waste is uncoupling complex carbon materials through combustion and burning them out of existence. We have energy substitutes coming online to make this higher value supply chain possible. Let's keep going.

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