Volume 25: Accelerated Energy Innovations and Emerging Technologies

What is the Demand for Low-Carbon Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels and Feedstocks? Charles Forsberg



Liquid hydrocarbons made from crude oil serve many functions: (1) a dense, easy-to-store, easy-to-transport energy source, (2) a method for daily-to-seasonal energy storage, (3) a chemical feedstock, (4) a chemical reducing agent and (5) a method to enhance high-temperature heat transfer in many furnaces and industrial processes. There are multiple methods to produce and use liquid hydrocarbons without increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels including (1) negative carbon emissions to balance carbon dioxide releases from burning crude-oil products and (2) producing liquid hydrocarbons from non- fossil feedstocks such as carbon dioxide or biomass. Understanding liquid hydrocarbon demand is the starting point in assessing options for producing and using liquid hydrocarbons without increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Our assessment is that U.S. demand for liquid hydrocarbons is unlikely to go below the equivalent of 10 million barrels per day of crude oil. The costs to replace liquid hydrocarbons increases rapidly at lower liquid hydrocarbon consumption rates. Hydrocarbon biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks can meet such demands but options based on more limited feedstocks (bio oils, sugars, etc.) can’t meet such demands.

Keywords Liquid Hydrocarbons, Liquid fuel demand, Biofuel

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