Carbon Dioxide as a commodity and not a problem waste by Professor Peter Styring 29th October 2018

Peter Styring became Prof. of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at the University of Sheffield in 2007.  He gradu­ated at Sheffield then worked at Hull and New York State uni­ver­sit­ies.  He is an expert in Carbon Capture & Utilisation (CCU).  He is the author of “Carbon Capture and Utilisation in the Green Economy” and is Chair of the CO2Chem Network.

His talk began with provid­ing evid­ence that it is CO2 that is the major con­trib­utor to global warm­ing by show­ing a series of “hockey stick” graphs show­ing the global effects of vari­ous sus­pec­ted con­trib­ut­ors.  Deforestation has noth­ing like the effect that it is com­monly thought have and simply plant­ing more trees will not in itself solve the prob­lem. Similarly, the Ozone layer has only a small effect and aer­o­sols have a neg­li­gible effect.

He then moved on to how CO2 is a “green­house gas” and a cli­mate change accel­er­ator.  A prob­lem is that fossil fuels take mil­lions of years to create and seconds to des­troy.  He is con­vinced that the gen­er­a­tion of fossil fuel use for our elec­tri­city, heat­ing, indus­trial pro­duc­tion and trans­port is det­ri­mental.  To mit­ig­ate against this requires: Government policy; life cycle aware­ness & sus­tain­ab­il­ity; cre­ation of new chem­ic­als, pro­cesses and indus­tries.


Peter intro­duced the Linsink Waste Hierarchy concept:-

Waste hier­archy is a tool used in the eval­u­ation of pro­cesses that pro­tect the envir­on­ment along­side resource and energy con­sump­tion to most favour­able to least favour­able actions

The top of the pyr­amid is to use no new fossil fuels and the lowest level is to bury the prob­lem.

At the IPCC con­fer­ence in Korea we received a dire warn­ing “to reduce the rate of global warm­ing to a max­imum of 1.5 0C per annum and we have only 10 years to save the planet”.

Peter is con­vinced that legis­la­tion alone is not the answer and solu­tions that create a “profit” are a prac­tical approach.  Taking inspir­a­tion from Sir Fraser Stoddard, he believes in using CO2 to make things.  Peter Medawar speaks of “some­thing to be clever about” to create a world where there is no sur­plus CO2.  Peter covered many aspects of CO2 util­isa­tion and in par­tic­u­lar, vari­ous forms of trans­port.  He thinks there is a big future for the mass pro­duc­tion of Dimethyl Ether.  This liquid is a sub­sti­tute for diesel and is already used for some goods vehicles in Canada and the US.  For a small cost, diesel engines can be con­ver­ted to use DME with no emis­sion pol­lut­ants.  This is a much better method of cap­tur­ing CO2 and prob­ably much less costly than stor­ing it under the North Sea.

This was a spell bind­ing talk given by an inter­na­tional expert that cuts through some of the mis-information that is around today.