The key difference between bio carbon and fossil carbon is that bio carbon is a form of renewable carbon found in biological systems such as plants, animals, microorganisms, soil and oceans while fossil carbon is a form of non-renewable carbon found in fossil fuels.
Carbon is a macro-element present in all living organisms and non-living components. Carbon circulates through the lithosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere in order to maintain equilibrium. Therefore, carbon exists in different forms such as gas, solid and liquid. The main carbon reservoir is the atmospheric carbon in the form of carbon dioxide gas. Exchange of carbon maintains a natural equilibrium. But this balance has been distorted largely due to human activities. Bio carbon and fossil carbon are the two major forms of carbon.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Fossil Carbon
3. What is Bio Carbon
4. Relationship Between Bio Carbon and Fossil Carbon
5. Side by Side Comparison – Bio Carbon vs Fossil Carbon in Tabular Form
What is Bio Carbon?
Bio carbon is the form of renewable carbon present in biological systems such as plants, animals, and microorganisms. Plants absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide as a starting material to carry out photosynthesis and produce their own food – carbohydrates. Plants utilize some of this carbonic food to produce energy and for growth and development. They store remaining carbonic foods in their tissue for later use. Animals eat different parts of plants and receive carbonic foods from plants. When plants and animals excrete or die, they release this carbon back to the soil. Some of the carbon is in animal shells in the forms of carbonates, or they may be dissolved in water. Therefore, oceans and other water bodies possess a large amount of carbon too. Bio carbon is the carbon stored in trees, animals, soils and oceans as described above.
These bio carbon storages are highly important to maintain the minimum atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as they are the most vulnerable to human activities. For example, trees and plants contain a large amount of bio carbon, around 2000 billion tones in forests, grasslands and other vegetation. Due to deforestation, a large amount of this carbon comes back to the atmosphere, causing the greenhouse effect and global warming. Reforestation, avoiding deforestation, forest management, and land management are some ways to maintain the bio carbon storages.
What is Fossil Carbon?
Fossil carbons are the carbon stored in fossil fuels. Fossil carbon originates from the bio carbon in trees, plants and other vegetations. When dead plant materials stay underground subjected to heat and pressure for millions of years, they transform into fossil fuels like petroleum, natural gas or coal. They are in deposits, and people take them out by excavation. A large amount of fossil carbon combines with other elements to form hydrocarbons.
Fossil carbon can be used as a fuel and for many other purposes as well. By burning fossil carbon in vehicles and factories, we release a large amount of deposited carbon back to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Therefore, just like in case of bio carbon, humans are responsible for depleting fossil carbons. However, it’s important to note that fossil carbon cannot be regenerated again easily as they take millions of years to generate. Therefore, it is a form of nonrenewable carbon present on Earth.
What is the Relationship Between Bio Carbon and Fossil Carbon?
- Bio carbon and fossil carbon are two major forms of carbon existing on Earth.
- Moreover, bio carbon transforms into fossil carbon.
- Fossil carbon releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere upon burning, and this carbon dioxide is the starting material of bio carbon.
What is the Difference Between Bio Carbon and Fossil Carbon?
Bio carbon is the carbon stored in trees, plants, soil and ocean while fossil carbon is the carbon present in fossil fuels. Thus, this is the key difference between bio carbon and fossil carbon. Furthermore, bio carbon storages are higher than the presence of fossil carbon. Most importantly, bio carbons are renewable, while fossil carbons are nonrenewable. That is because they take thousands of years to generate and make fossil fuels. Hence, this is an important difference between bio carbon and fossil carbon. Normally, fossil carbon is more useful in producing energy than bio carbon sources. Therefore, fossil carbon is mostly used as a fuel while bio carbon is not.
Summary – Bio Carbon vs Fossil Carbon
Bio carbon is present in bio-systems while fossil carbon is present in fossil fuels. Thus, this is the key difference between bio carbon and fossil carbon. Moreover, bio carbon is renewable while fossil carbon is non-renewable. Another important difference between bio carbon and fossil carbon is that bio carbon storages are present in high amount while fossil carbon storages are very low.
1. Ritchie, Hannah, and Max Roser. “Fossil Fuels.” Our World in Data, 2 Oct. 2017, Available here.
1. “Carbon cycle-cute diagram” By Carbon_cycle-cute_diagram.jpeg: User Kevin Saff on en.wikipediaDerivative work: FischX – Carbon cycle-cute diagram.jpeg (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Coal” By Minerals and Materials Photo Gallery (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia