Company Makes Breakthrough By Affordably Removing Harmful CO2 Out Of The Air

Company Makes Breakthrough By Affordably Removing Harmful CO2 Out Of The Air

"Direct air capture technology offers a highly-scalable pathway to removing carbon from the atmosphere". Carbon Engineering (CE) has published new research that proves CO2 can now be captured from the atmosphere for less than $100USD per ton using its proprietary Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology.

The full manuscript, detailing the cost and process for capturing Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, can be viewed here. It could instead extract carbon dioxide from the air without introducing any new carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

"It'd be such a great solution-if it were real", MIT Energy Initiative senior researcher Howard Herzog, who coauthored the study that found costs could top $1,000 a ton, said at the time. Carbon Engineering's latest announcement is a reminder that the biggest obstacle to taking serious action against climate change is political.

Until now, the cost of climate change has been all about projections.

Carbon Engineering acknowledges that their work isn't going to end global warming, but they say it could help bridge the gap between today's economy and its reliance on fossil fuel and a future economy powered by sustainable energies. Numerous so-called negative emissions technologies exist, including growing perennial plants and trees to make biofuels, and sequestering carbon in soils.

Carbon Engineering plans to combine the carbon captured at its plants with hydrogen to produce carbon-neutral synthetic fuels, a process the pilot facility has already been performing. Once purified, the captured Carbon dioxide can be injected underground or used to make commercial products, such as fuels or plastics.

A previous study carried out by the American Physical Society in 2011suggested that the cost per tonne of direct air capture would be around $600.


Keith is also founder and chief scientist of Carbon Engineering, a Canadian firm that has been developing the technology.

The idea of direct air capture isn't new (the pilot itself has been running since 2015), but the successful implementation of Carbon Engineering's working plant is.

In a process similar to a pulp mill, the liquid containing the Carbon dioxide is brought to a factory where the acid is separated from the base and frozen into solid pellets, then heated and converted into a slurry. The captured Carbon dioxide is combined with hydrogen, which is made through the electrolysis of water. Each day they absorb about a ton of Carbon dioxide, but they're working on blueprints for a much larger facility which could potentially filter a million tons of Carbon dioxide per year. By using a little magic - and some limestone and hydrogen - that an alchemist would be proud of, the process can then yield new hydrocarbon fuels, such as gasoline or jet fuel.

"It's very tough, and even tougher if the Carbon dioxide is from your most expensive source, which is the air", he says. And because the process recycles carbon from the air, it would constitute a low-carbon fuel, something that places such as California are increasingly requiring in their fuel mixes, and which command a premium price.

"We think this is very scalable and will have world-wide markets", says Oldham.

United Nations reports indicate that governments may have to deploy such novel technologies this century to remove carbon from nature and bury it to limit global warming under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

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