Technologies may reduce cost of carbon uptake from atmosphere

Maybe we can afford to suck CO2 out of the sky after all

A Canadian company claims to have made a major breakthrough in affordably removing vast quantities of harmful Carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

A similar company in Europe, Climeworks, has already built two carbon capture facilities.

The process is electricity-intensive, and the steep decline in wind and solar energy is as critical to the company's business model as the success in driving down the cost of direct carbon capture, Dr. Keith said.

Scientists have always been skeptical towards the technological advances allowing for carbon emissions and thus climate change to be reduced. The NREL's cost for that much hydrogen comes to $225 plus the $94 to capture the carbon dioxide. The crucial CO2-capturing chemical is recycled.

The latest tests and cost analysis were conducted by Carbon Engineering, a Canadian company trying to commercialize CO2-extraction technology.

Previous research suggested the idea of sucking carbon out of the air - "direct air capture" - would prove too costly, with CO2 removal breaking the bank at $600 per ton.

Carbon Engineering's blows air through towers that have a solution of potassium hydroxide, which reacts with CO2 to make potassium carbonate.

CE's direct air capture equipment.

The goal is to turn carbon in the air into fuel for cars, boats, and planes. Prof David Keith, who is one of Carbon Engineering's founders and a professor at Harvard University, says that it is not just Carbon Engineering saying that this is a real step forward.

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As we continue to search for ways to cut emissions and slow down the effects of climate change, our best shot may just be using a method that clearly "sucks".

The paper says the same technology can be used to remove carbon dioxide from burning gasoline and that it would cost between $1 and $2.50 to remove the carbon dioxide released by burning a gallon of gasoline in a modern vehicle.

Carbon Engineering is now building a larger plant that will produce around 200 barrels of synthethic fuel a day and which should be fully operational in 2020. The company claims that its fuel has a major advantage over traditional sources of biofuel due to its far less intensive water and land production requirements.

This type of fuel can be produced at a low cost and will not raise the prices to consumers at the pump, and the result will be completely carbon-neutral fuel.

Others in the industry welcomed the fact that Carbon Engineering were bringing down costs, but felt that further incentives from governments were needed for carbon capture, utilisation and storage to achieve its potential.

The Carbon Engineering facility is far smaller than the Climeworks operations, now removing just one metric ton, or 2,200 pounds, of CO2 from the atmosphere each day. "We can keep collecting carbon dioxide with direct air capture, keep adding hydrogen generation and fuel synthesis, and keep reducing emissions through this AIR TO FUELSTM pathway". "The biggest challenge we are facing is, however, that the words agreed on in the Paris agreement must be followed by actions", said Edda.

"We are as a global society making an extremely long climate-change commitment, ' Tans added".

In an interview with The Atlantic, Keith said he is now looking for additional funding to set up an industrial grade plant that could be up and running by 2021.

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