"The numbers in Joule look good", said Klaus Lackner of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University, who pioneered the concept of direct air capture of CO2 in the 1990s. Nonetheless, "We need enormous volumes of CO2 removal and to achieve that, we need accurate economic analysis and hard engineering data", said Julio Friedmann, CEO of Carbon Wrangler LLC and senior advisor at The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.
Carbon Engineering's plant in Squamish, B.C., now pulls about one tonne of carbon a day from the air and produces about two barrels of fuel.
The pilot plant is made up of an industrial cooling tower, remodeled to pull Carbon dioxide from the air before converting it from a gas to a solid and back to a purified gas.
Direct air capture technology uses giant fans to bring air into contact with an aqueous solution that strains out and traps carbon dioxide.
Carbon Engineering, a Canadian company funded by Bill Gates and Canada oil sands financier Norman Murray Edwards, revealed that is has developed a new technology in order to remove CO2 from the air, reaching a new and important threshold in this field. The company is now making around one barrel a day by combining the pure Carbon dioxide with hydrogen derived from water, using renewable energy. It captures one tonne of Carbon dioxide on a daily basis. Carbon Engineering proudly says that cutting the costs to such an extent is a "real step forward". That's also what scientists with the American Physical Society estimated it would cost when they conducted a similar study in 2011.
The company has been running a pilot plant since 2015, and is now in the market to raise $60-million as it prepares to build its first commercial-scale operation.
"This isn't some new clever piece of science or weird chemical we synthesized in some fancy lab", Keith said in an interview. "I still think a final number could be several times as much".
However, plans to capture Carbon dioxide directly from the air have been regarded as somewhat more substantial - essentially mirroring the actions of trees.
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. The resulting synthetic fuel can be blended or used on its own as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel.
Carbon Engineering, which has about 40 employees and produces about a tonne of carbon dioxide a day from an experimental plant. "While uncertainties, of course, remain, the fact that it can be built using established processes and suppliers gives us confidence to develop industrial-scale plants". 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.
"Making fuels that are easy to store and transport eases the challenge of integrating renewable into the energy system", said Keith. 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. The company claims that its scaled-up air-to-fuel system would be able to produce gasoline at about $1 per liter ($3.80 per gallon).