Decouple Podcast: Why the world needs synfuels and high-temperature heat

BF Randall, an environmental lawyer who has made a rapid rise on #energytwitter for his detailed threads on mining and energy, explains why we may be pursuing the wrong strategy to decouple human well-being from emissions. Namely, by focusing on decarbonizing electricity, we are ignoring and even increasing the 85% of global primary energy that comes from fossil fuels for non-electricity uses.

Randall argues that more than almost anyone appreciates, crude oil heavy distillates are the lifeblood of modern civilization and the heart that pumps it is the diesel engine. From mining to trucking to trains to marine transportation, the low RPM, high torque diesel engine is indispensable. The dramatic increase in global mining, ore processing, and transportation associated with stated goals for renewable energy would only cement the diesel engine’s role as the machine behind the machine.

To Randall, the diesel engine is not something we should get rid of but protect as “the most efficient engine ever created by humans.” He argues that the low-hanging fruits of decarbonization, and the only option likely to make inroads into the fossil energy black box that makes up 85% of global energy use, are high-temperature nuclear heat and the synthesis of synfuels using non-crude-oil feedstocks to provide the heavy distillates required to sustain the engines of our civilization.