Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
Predictive environmental understanding

EVS and other Argonne researchers working with industry to develop a circular carbon economy

August 5, 2019

Although Earth has many efficient ways to maintain carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, from sequestration by forests and oceans to the formation of limestone and fossil fuels, release of the gas through both natural and manmade activities is adding more than the earth's natural processes can handle. To alleviate this stressor, EVS division director Cristina Negri, among other Argonne researchers, is looking to the concept of a circular carbon economy.

A circular carbon economy is an alternative economy that considers the reuse, recovery, and recycling of carbon-containing materials to keep carbon out of the atmosphere. The concept is gaining traction among U.S. corporations that recognize its positive economic and environmental impact. Argonne researchers are helping companies develop strategies to account for their byproducts and waste and to repurpose them for use as new products or energy.

For example, Negri is working with Koppers, Inc., a global chemistry and materials company (producing railroad ties and utility poles), to forward this concept. Koppers is already converting waste products or scrap materials into productive materials; and it is recovering old railroad ties to use in energy production. With Argonne, it is also looking at afforestation, a process of growing trees on lands where none had grown before, as an additional means of carbon offset.

Read the Argonne feature story by John Spizzirri.

A circular carbon economy considers the reuse, recovery, and recycling of carbon-containing materials to keep carbon out of the atmosphere.
A circular carbon economy considers the reuse, recovery, and recycling of carbon-containing materials to keep carbon out of the atmosphere. [Source: taka1022/Shutterstock.com]
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portrait of M. Cristina Negri