The current cycle of carbon atoms in fuels is too slow to be sustainable. Fuels and chemicals come from petroleum. Fuels are burned releasing the carbon as carbon dioxide. Plastics are used, then landfilled. To reuse these carbon atoms, the carbon dioxide and landfill contents must be converted back to plants, but currently this is too slow. Too much carbon dioxide is released and the conversion of landfill to plant nutrients is too slow. The cycle is not turning. Even if these problems could be solved, an even bigger one remains. Converting plants to petroleum takes eons.
The broken carbon cycle.
One solution is new biocatalysis reactions. One set is biofuels and biorefinery processes to convert plants directly to fuels and chemicals. The second set is biodegradation of plastics and other chemicals to plant nutrients. Inventing these reactions using synthetic biology and protein engineering is an important goal of biocatalysis today.
￼A sustainable carbon cycle needs new biocatalysis processes.