Can carbon be used in place of other fuels?


I’ve heard of hydrogen being used as an alternative energy source, and solar energy is another alternative, however has anyone considered using carbon? The main issue with climate change is carbon emission, so is it possible for carbon to be used as fuel?

In: Earth Science

Carbon is essentially what we are using already. And it’s the reason why there are “carbon emissions.” Because the fuel we’re using is based around carbon.

In theory it can, but the downside is that everything you use would have to be powered by burning charcoal. So that would not be an optimal solution. Quite the opposite in fact. So the practical answer is…no.

So you’d like to use carbon to replace carbon as a fuel source?

Thus burning said carbon would put it back into the air again.

There have been efforts of recapture CO2 from the air and reuse it. This obviously requires energy input and isn’t actually reducing the carbon in the air.

Carbon is already the primary fuel source. Specifically, hydrocarbons (molecules of hydrogen and carbon in various arrangements) are the combustible component in gasoline, diesel fuel, coal, natural gas, etc. when these hydrocarbons are burnt, the hydrogen bonds with oxygen to become water vapor (H2O), while the carbon combines with oxygen to become carbon dioxide (CO2) or carbon monoxide (CO). These new carbon-oxygen molecules are more stable, so that they cannot be combusted again.

Carbon is coal, and we do use it as a fuel source. Carbon-based fuel can be used instead, such as oil and all other fossil fuels. “Carbon emission” is the emission of carbon dioxide, which is the product of burning carbon-based fuels.

Hydrogen is a joke, in terms of commercial power generation. Its only possible utility is in cars.

It isn’t “carbon” emission, it is carbon dioxide emission that is the issue. Carbon dioxide is what is produced (mainly) when carbon is burnt. Coal is essentially carbon which is why there is a lot of effort to replace it with more renewable and less carbon dioxide emitting energy sources.

Yes, it can, that’s what generates a lot of the carbon emissions.

I imagine what you’re suggesting is to take the co2 of the atmosphere, separate the oxygen from the carbon atoms, and then use the carbon as fuel. the problem with this is that when you use any carbon-based sustain as a fuel you will generate co2, you may think that you end up with a balance where you use the fuel to create the thing you later are going to use as fuel, the thing is that this would require 100% efficiency, which isn’t possible. It would take more energy to collect and separate the co2, than the amount of energy you will get from the fuel collected, then when you use that fuel to generate energy you will lose a lot of it in the form of heat (carbon is not an efficient energy source). So at the end of the day you will end up with more co2 than when you started.

When people say “carbon emission” they mean “carbon-dioxide” emission. The carbon dioxide (with a few other gasses) is what results from burning carbon based fuels.

Hydrogen is not an energy source because there is not a natural source of hydrogen gas on earth that were can use.

Hydrogen is manufactured either by breaking down water with electricity.

You can also produce natural gas where you use its energy and water to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide.

So hydrogen is a way to transport or just store energy that comes from somewhere else eight fossil fuels or electricity. It is fundamentally no different that our electrical grid is not an energy source but a way of transporting energy.

There might be applications where hydrogen is the best solution but for electrical cars, the problem is that the energy efficiency in the system is less than using batteries. Hydrogen has the advantage that you can refuel quickly instead of charging batteries and that might in some vehicle applications be worth the energy inefficiency.

Carbon is also used today a lot. Coal is solid carbon, oil is carbon and hydrogen. Plants are carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. So carbon as an energy source in combination with other elements has been using by humans as long as we have used fire.