New Technologies Reduce Cost of Sucking Carbon from Thin Air

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New Technologies Reduce Cost of Sucking Carbon from Thin Air

A Canadian company has taken a key step towards developing carbon capture technology that could pay for itself.

"The objective of capturing from the air is that you can make low carbon fuels from renewable power". "Carbon dioxide levels are continuing to grow at an all-time record rate because emissions from coal, oil and natural gas are also at record high levels'".

Plans to build solar shields in space or to seed the seas with materials to soak up carbon have been seen as unsafe and a distraction to the more mundane but hard task of getting people to cut their emissions.

There's a way to kill climate change for good: recycle the carbon dioxide in the air and then reuse it instead of adding more.

Keith explains it like a relatively straightforward process, but Carbon Engineering have been working on the problem of affordably capturing CO2 at a pilot plant in Squamish, British Columbia since 2015. (See "Go inside an industrial plant that sucks carbon dioxide straight out of the air.") The study, partially funded by the US Department of Energy, simulates a scaled-up version, based on the facility's actual performance and cost data.

The projected costs of direct air capture range from less than $100 per tonne when it is part of a fuels plant, to $250 per tonne when it used for pure sequestration that requires compression of the gas and additional capital costs for a stand-alone operation, concluded the paper which was published in the journal, Joule.

In an interview this week, Herzog complimented the detailed analysis in the new study, but said he remains skeptical of some of its financial assumptions. That could drive a market for DAC plants that would likely drive costs down further, Oldham says. Those include the use of horizontally rather than vertically stacked structures, lower energy demands due to improved heat integration in the process, and the power sources selected to run the plant.

"For liquid fuels we need better answers, this approach, Carbon dioxide from the air plus hydrogen you get from renewables to make fuels, that's the pathway". "It's not a magic bullet, it's not too cheap to metre, but it's something that really we think could be built out, and could be built out at relatively low technical risk". This funding would help improve electric grid security, create more energy choices for businesses, and advance the development and deployment of low-carbon, clean energy technologies-all in rural communities throughout the country. It's now seeking additional funds to build a larger facility that will begin selling fuels, though still on a relatively small scale.

What makes the technology promising is also the virtually unlimited amount of carbon dioxide that can keep the transportation industry running.

Carbon Engineering's fuel qualifies as a high-grade renewable fuel under the Environmental Protection Agency's renewable fuel mandate, allowing it to fetch premium prices. So if new fuels are going to actually become widespread, the government may need to provide some subsidies to drop the cost. "These guys actually have something you can measure", says Stephen Pacala, an ecologist with Princeton University who is chairing a panel on carbon removal technologies for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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