“Carbon is our society’s most precious resource”

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As we come to the end of week three of our Carbon Revolution series, here are ten remarkable quotes from people who pioneered taking the element out of the sky and using it on Earth.


“Carbon is very special”

Carbon is the most important and versatile element on Earth, according to Andrei Khlobystov, professor of carbon nanomaterials. “Carbon is very special,” Khlobystov told Dezeen. “All life on Earth is based on carbon.”

Khlobystov believes science is well on the way to developing viable ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere and turn it into useful products.

“If you take carbon dioxide, take away oxygen atoms, and add hydrogen atoms, we can make liquid fuels that we can use to drive cars,” he said.

“You can turn it into polymers as well,” he said. “You can make chemicals. We can make ethanol from carbon dioxide and then use it to make vodka, for example.”


Yasmeen Lari wins Jane Drew Award

“The Earth has no carbon emissions”

According to Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari, who has used earth, bamboo and lime to build thousands of homes, old construction techniques may offer better ways to build carbon-free homes than high-end solutions. technology.

“There are a lot of ancient wisdoms and techniques that have been used over the years, but I can’t imagine most so-called starch makers would even look at them,” Lari told Dezeen.

“I can’t say I made any assessment, but I know the Earth has no carbon emissions,” she added. “It is locally sourced, it is biodegradable, it can be reused 100 times.”


Portrait of William McDonough

“Carbon is not our enemy. He is a friend”

Carbon has been unfairly demonized for its role in climate change, said sustainable design guru William McDonough. “Carbon is not our enemy,” he said. “He’s a friend. He’s an innocent part in all of this.”

Preventing climate change is “a design project that needs a lot of attention,” he added. “It’s very exciting to see how many ways we can do it, but it’s intimidating.”


2021 Dezeen Awards judge Sebastian Cox

“Carbon can be an ally in a regenerative future”

Carbon is an incredible resource that can be sequestered in the buildings and objects around us, designer Sebastian Cox argued in a column.

“Carbon can be an ally in a regenerative future,” he wrote. “Carbon from photosynthesis, not fossils, should as much as possible be the fabric of the things we use and buy.”


Portrait of Mineral Carbonation International COO Sophia Hamblin Wang

“We help plan the decarbonization of entire sectors”

Interest in building materials made from captured carbon has exploded over the past two years, according to Sophia Hamblin Wang, COO of Mineral Carbonation International.

“Saint moly,” said Hamblin Wang, whose company makes bricks and other materials from CO2 captured in factory chimneys. “It has been tumultuous over the past two years. “

“We are working with some of the largest companies in the world to chart their course towards zero carbon. We help them plan the decarbonization of entire industries and entire facilities. “


Climeworks CO2 Suction Cup

“Carbon is our society’s most precious resource”

Swiss company Climeworks builds direct air capture machines that suck CO2 from the atmosphere so that it can either be stored underground or used.

“We capture CO2 from the atmosphere,” said Christoph Beuttler, climate policy manager at Climeworks. “We exploit the sky because it contains too much carbon. And it is a sustainable resource.”

“Carbon is our society’s most valuable resource,” added Beuttler. “We built our society on carbon. The problem is, it comes out of the ground and adds extra carbon to the atmosphere.”


“One day we will eat foods made with carbon dioxide”

Designer Teresa van Dongen has created a library of materials that capture carbon dioxide. These include potential CO2-based foods, including spirulina, which is an energy-intensive algae, and microbial proteins that consume methane.

“I absolutely believe that one day we will be eating foods made from carbon dioxide,” van Dongen said. “It’s just a matter of time and government legislation.”

“It starts with the realization that all of the plant-based foods we eat have taken in CO2 for the plant to thrive.”


Nori CEO Paul Gambill at a conference

“We need a financial incentive to get carbon out of the air”

Nori is one of the many companies creating a market for carbon capture. Farmers, foresters and others who can prove that they sequester atmospheric carbon for at least 10 years can list it on the Nori website.

“If we want people to do something that they’re not doing now, the best way to get them to do it is to pay them,” said Paul Gambill, CEO of Nori. “So what we need is a financial incentive to take carbon out of the air.”


“We practice an atmospheric circular economy”

Finnish company Solar Foods transforms the captured CO2 into protein that can be used for a variety of foods. It could feed humanity while using much less land and avoiding carbon emissions produced by industrial agriculture.

“The key question facing Solar Foods is: how do we enable a carbon dependent society to move to a circular carbon system? ”Asked Solar Foods CEO Pasi Vainikka.

“This is our point of view,” he said. “This is to allow the end of the concept of mining [fossil fuels]. It’s practicing an atmospheric circular economy. “


Made of Air biochar plastic panels

“How come we can’t make carbon our greatest resource? “

Dutch company Made of Air manufactures bioplastic from biochar from agricultural and forestry waste. The material offers long-term carbon sequestration, according to the company’s commercial director, Neema Shams.

“What if everything we are surrounded by cuts shows instead of releasing them?” Shams said. “Climate change is really a materials problem as there is too much carbon in the atmosphere. So how come we can’t make it our greatest resource? “


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This article is part of Dezeen’s Carbon Revolution series, which explores how this miracle material could be removed from the atmosphere and used on earth. Read all content on: www.dezeen.com/carbon.

The sky photograph used in the carbon revolution graph is from Taylor van riper Going through Unsplash.

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