Key 'step forward' in cutting cost of removing Carbon dioxide from air

A bottle of clean fuel made from carbon extracted from the air

Its two largest investors are Mr. Gates and Murray Edwards, executive chairman of Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.; its top executives are former leaders at MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.

Previous research and studies into direct air capture (DAC) have suggested that removing a ton of Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would cost US$600, which is too expensive to be a feasible solution, Keith said.

"At Carbon Engineering, we now have the data and engineering to prove that DAC can achieve costs below $100 (U.S.)", he said.

The goal is to turn carbon in the air into fuel for cars, boats, and planes.

The full manuscript, detailing the cost and process for capturing Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, can be viewed here. Following that, several tech firms have built prototypes of devices that will remove carbon from the air. At that point, one of the only ways to reverse the effects is to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, where it otherwise persists for thousands of years.

"What I hope is that our paper demonstrates that this is a do-able technology", he said in a telephone interview from Cambridge, Ma. The problem has been finding a way to drop costs and then make it work on a large scale.




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. In the fuel cases, the carbon is essentially recycled and replaces fossil fuels pulled from the ground, hence the process is carbon neutral. CE has proven both DAC and AIR TO FUELS™ technologies and has been capturing Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere since 2015 and converting it into fuels since December 2017.

Crucially, the lowest-cost design, optimized to produce and sell alternative fuels made from the captured carbon dioxide, could already be profitable with existing public policies in certain markets (see "The carbon-capture era may finally be starting"). This is an engineering breakthrough on two fronts: A potentially cost-effective way to take Carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to fight climate change and a potentially cost-competitive way to make gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel that doesn't add any additional Carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. "California, especially, has a low carbon fuel standard, Canada's developing a standard ... but these standards to reward low-carbon fuels are starting".

"We are not going to run out of air anytime soon", said Steve Oldham, CEO of Carbon Engineering.

And an air capture plant could be built nearly anywhere.

Jan Wurzbacher, a founder of Climeworks, said more and more governments are likely to jack up penalties on carbon emissions to limit floods, storms and rising seas in coming years, making the technology more viable. The market will get a further boost as the Canadian government and USA states adopt clean fuel standards that will provide incentives for marketers to purchase low-carbon alternatives. Last year, Swiss company Climeworks opened one of the first commercial DAC plants near Zurich, which is made up of a roof-mounted facility that captures Carbon dioxide from the air and pipes it into a nearby greenhouse.

"Our low-carbon fuel is entirely compatible with any automobile, any truck, any airplane that exists today", He said. "Making fuels that are easy to store and transport eases the challenge of integrating renewables into the energy system".

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