#Forbes: The Rise Of #CarbonTech – #CO2 Finds Market Value

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Exciting things are happening in the world of carbon capture. A new category of companies are coming to market that are using technological innovation to turn excess CO2 into useful, marketable products. They are calling themselves “CarbonTech” or “Carbon to Value” and proposing that carbon waste can be turned into products of real value.

According to the 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), humanity will need to reduce its global carbon budget significantly in the next 10 to 14 years to avoid the existential threat of severe and catastrophic climate change. Carbon buildup in the atmosphere over the past hundred years is already causing tangible impacts such as the recent flooding in Mozambique, the California fires and the severe storms which have afflicted major portions of the US.

There are fundamentally three ways to reduce the carbon budget to meet the IPCC goals.

One pathway to reducing the carbon budget, already in practice worldwide, is to lower the demand for fossil fuels in the energy, transportation and agricultural sectors while simultaneously bringing electricity, food and good transportation to the developing world. This requires changes to many entrenched systems, which move slowly—policy, business/industry and agriculture are all sectors that need modifications to business-as-usual. All will require technological and business model innovation. Thanks to real progress in energy efficiency and renewable energy cost reductions, these changes are happening, albeit slowly.

A less viable, but often mentioned pathway would be geological engineering of the atmosphere on an enormous and unprecedented scale. This would involve dumping particulate matter or water vapor into the stratosphere to reflect the sun’s rays back upward, likely causing unforeseen, unintended consequences.

A third, and very promising, pathway would be to focus on increasing the rate of removal of man-made CO2. The issue is of such importance that former Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, launched a study called “Clearing the Air” at Climate Week in NYC.

Trees, soil and oceans do soak up CO2, but do so at a rate that, while sufficient for naturally occurring CO2, cannot keep up with humanity’s insatiable appetite for creating CO2. For the past 150 years, the excess has been dumped into the atmosphere as waste and remains there for up to 200 years.

The first pathway, energy efficiency and resource conservation, works slowly. The second, geoengineering, poses risks not worth pursuing. The third, CO2 capture and utilization, offers the opportunity to manufacture high value products out of CO2 waste, creating a market value for carbon, which policy makers have been largely unable to do. It is possible to create opportunity out of past errors.

In the past, efforts to remove carbon from the atmosphere focused on storing carbon in underground caverns at enormous expense. Without a reliable carbon pricing mechanism, this became a money sink as much as a carbon sink. Recently, next-generation carbon removal processes are beginning to see the light of day, and creeping out from the caverns. Simply put, the intention of the prize is to reward technologies that capture excess CO2 to make high-value products that command a market price. Loosely framed, the technologies form three categories—those that create materials for the cement and concrete aggregate industries, those that create fuels, plastics and chemicals and those that create durable carbon products such as carbon fiber, carbon black and carbon nanotubes. In addition to the companies vying for the prize, there are now companies with similar technologies appearing at both the academic and commercialization level.

Read more at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/patsapinsley/2019/11/12/the-rise-of-carbontech-co2-finds-market-value/#71a3821c4524

#BBC News: Electric car future may depend on deep sea mining

 

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The concept has been talked about for decades, but until now it’s been thought too difficult to operate in the high-pressure, pitch-black conditions as much as 5km deep.

Now the technology is advancing to the point where dozens of government and private ventures are weighing up the potential for mines on the ocean floor.

The rocks of the seabed are far richer in valuable metals than those on land and there’s a growing clamour to get at them.Billions of potato-sized rocks known as “nodules” litter the abyssal plains of the Pacific and other oceans and many are brimming with cobalt, suddenly highly sought after as the boom in the production of batteries gathers pace.

At the moment, most of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo where for years there’ve been allegations of child labour, environmental damage and widespread corruption.

Read more at: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49759626

#Forbes: #Australia May Be The Saving Grace For The Rare Earth Metals Market

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U.S. has for years been dependent on China, the world’s biggest producer by a huge margin. The Asian country has enjoyed a near-monopoly in the rare earth market, representing between 80 percent and 90 percent of global output.

Cracks in that market dominance are beginning to appear, however, as Australia has recently emerged as a competitive supplier. From 2013 to 2018, Australia’s annual output of REEs exploded more than 1,600 percent, from around 1,000 tonnes to 19,000 tonnes, according to consultancy firm Roskill.

China’s dominance poses a considerable economic and national security risk to the U.S., one that’s become all the more apparent in the months since trade relations between Beijing and Washington turned sour. “Control of the rare earth supply gives Beijing both economic and military advantages over the U.S.,” writes Michael Silver, CEO of American Elements, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Read more at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2019/11/06/australia-may-be-the-saving-grace-for-the-rare-earth-metals-market/#57ebf2d641cd

 

 

#Bloomberg: #Volvo Cars Goes for Blockchain Tech to Avoid Unethical #Cobalt

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Volvo Cars will use blockchain technology to trace the origin of cobalt used in its batteries in an effort to avoid supplies produced by children and under unethical conditions.

The commodity, an important ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, is mainly extracted in Congo, which last year produced more than two-thirds of the world’s cobalt.

While the mineral is mainly taken out of the ground by large industrial mines, about 17% is dug by hand by thousands of miners operating in the southeastern Katanga region before being sold on to intermediaries, according to trading house Darton Commodities. At that point, it’s difficult to distinguish from ethically mined cobalt.

Read more at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-06/volvo-cars-goes-for-blockchain-tech-to-avoid-unethical-cobalt

#Bloomberg: #Indonesia Suspends #Nickel Ore Exports With Immediate Effect

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(Bloomberg) — Indonesia suspended exports of nickel ore with immediate effect after a planned ban on shipments from the beginning of next year led to a rush to beat the deadline.

The mineral meant for exports during the rest of the year will be absorbed by domestic companies with smelters, Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board Chairman Bahlil Lahadalia told reporters in Jakarta on Monday. The government and nickel miners association agreed to halt exports immediately and there won’t be any notification issued in this regard, he said.

Nickel rose as much as 1.2% to reach $16,980 a ton on the London Metal Exchange after the news. Prices peaked at $18,060 in early September immediately after Indonesia first announced plans to expedite the ore ban. Shares of nickel producers also rallied on the news with MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC jumping as much as 7%.

Read more at: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/indonesia-suspends-nickel-ore-exports-111010637.html

#MIT engineers develop a new way to remove carbon dioxide from air

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A new way of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of air could provide a significant tool in the battle against climate change. The new system can work on the gas at virtually any concentration level, even down to the roughly 400 parts per million currently found in the atmosphere.

Most methods of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of gas require higher concentrations, such as those found in the flue emissions from fossil fuel-based power plants. A few variations have been developed that can work with the low concentrations found in air, but the new method is significantly less energy-intensive and expensive, the researchers say.

The device is essentially a large, specialized battery that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air (or other gas stream) passing over its electrodes as it is being charged up, and then releases the gas as it is being discharged. In operation, the device would simply alternate between charging and discharging, with fresh air or feed gas being blown through the system during the charging cycle, and then the pure, concentrated carbon dioxide being blown out during the discharging.

Read more at: http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-engineers-develop-new-way-remove-carbon-dioxide-air-1025

 

#Aljazeera: China plans to tap North Korean rare earth mine – Report

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North Korea plans to grant China access to a rare earth mine in exchange for investment in solar energy that could ease chronic power shortages in the impoverished country, according to an article posted on an industry association website on Thursday.

China is the world’s dominant producer of rare earths, a group of 17 chemical elements prized for their use in consumer electronics and military equipment, but neighbouring North Korea is believed to have significant untapped rare earth resources.

Putting the cost of a 2.5 million kilowatt-hour per day solar plant in North Korea at about $2.5bn, the report on the website of the Association of China Rare Earth Industry said China’s reward for investing would be mining rights to a rare earth mine in North Pyongan province on its borders.

Read more at: https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/china-plans-tap-north-korean-rare-earth-report-191024063540106.html

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