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Bio-Oil: What is it and how big tech is using it to fight climate change?

08:16 PM May 27, 2023 IST | Ground report
bio oil  what is it and how big tech is using it to fight climate change

As the world faces the urgent need to address climate change, innovative technologies and sustainable solutions are emerging. One such solution is Bio-Oil, a promising weapon against climate change. Big tech companies have recognized its potential and are actively exploring its applications.

Tech giants like Alphabet, Meta, Stripe, Shopify, and McKinsey Sustainability have joined forces in a groundbreaking initiative aimed at tackling climate change.


A key player in this venture is Charm Industrial, which has developed a unique process involving the collection of discarded corn stalks and logging debris. By subjecting these materials to controlled heating, Charm Industrial produces a carbon-rich liquid called bio-oil, which bears similarities to the liquid smoke used to flavor barbecue sauce.

Charm Industrial, in collaboration with the founding members of Frontier and other companies, has signed an agreement aimed at capturing and storing carbon dioxide. The agreement involves a substantial payment of $53 million to capture and store 112,000 tons of CO2 between 2024 and 2030. While Charm Industrial has already successfully stored more than 6,100 metric tons of CO2 in the form of bio-oil, this new agreement represents an escalation meaningful in your efforts.


The Big technology that bio-oil uses to combat climate change is a mixture of highly oxygenated molecules, carboxylic acids and trace amounts of water. After being refined, the biofuel can be used as a substitute for conventional fuels.


Bio-Oil is an innovative solution that has emerged as a potential weapon against climate change. Also known as pyrolysis oil or biomass oil, it is a liquid fuel produced through the thermal decomposition of organic materials such as agricultural residues, forest debris, and algae. Unlike fossil fuels, biopetroleum is derived from renewable sources and offers several environmental benefits.


The bio-oil production process consists of subjecting organic materials to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, a process known as pyrolysis. This thermal decomposition breaks down complex organic compounds into a liquid form, resulting in bio-oil. The composition of the bio-oil varies according to the raw material used, but it is generally composed of hydrocarbons, oxygenated compounds and small amounts of nitrogen and sulfur.

Transforming waste into carbon storage

Charm Industrial collects agricultural waste, such as discarded corn stalks and tree clippings from logging operations. These materials serve as primary raw materials for the production of bio-oil. Through heat treatment in specialized reactors, the waste is heated to high temperatures, resulting in the conversion of the waste into carbon-rich bio-oil. This bio-oil not only has culinary applications, but also serves as a vital tool for carbon storage.

Charm Industrial takes a decentralized approach, using its fleet of vehicles and equipment to transport and inject biooil into existing wells or repurposed salt caverns. This method distinguishes Charm Industrial from other carbon removal techniques that rely on building large-scale facilities. However, scaling up the process presents challenges, including producing specialized reactors and ensuring well integrity to prevent bio-oil leaks.

A fascinating aspect of Bio-Oil is its striking resemblance to liquid smoke, a common ingredient used to impart smoky flavors in various food products such as barbecue sauce. This feature opens up a range of potential applications for Bio-Oil beyond its role in carbon capture.

Is this method useful for all?

The utility of the Bio-Oil method varies depending on the specific circumstances and goals. While it offers potential benefits in terms of carbon storage and offsetting, its effectiveness may be limited to situations where burning or natural decay of wood and plant debris would be the alternative.

Factors such as cost, emissions associated with process feed, and the availability of more sustainable alternatives must also be considered. Ultimately, the Bio-Oil method should be seen as one tool among many in the broader context of addressing climate change, with the need for comprehensive emission reductions and sustainable practices remaining a top priority.

Carbon removal goals: The Bio-Oil method's main objective is to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) underground, avoiding its release into the atmosphere. It can be beneficial for companies or industries looking to offset their carbon dioxide emissions and achieve carbon neutrality. However, it is important to note that carbon removal alone cannot replace the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source.

Feasibility and scalability: The Bio-Oil method is based on the collection of organic waste materials, such as corn stalks and tree clippings, and their conversion into bio-oil through a specific treatment process. The availability and accessibility of such waste materials may vary by region. Scaling up the process to capture significant amounts of CO2 requires infrastructure, specialized equipment, and careful management to ensure its effectiveness and minimize potential environmental risks.

Costs and Technological Advances: The Bio-Oil method, like any emerging technology, may initially involve higher costs and require ongoing research and development to optimize efficiency and profitability. As the technology matures and advances, it has the potential to become more accessible and economically viable.

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