Carbon Engineering takes major step in cutting carbon capture costs

Carbon Engineering's pilot plant in Squamish

Carbon Engineering's pilot plant in Squamish

Keith explains, "Until now, research suggested it would cost $600USD per ton to remove CO2 from the atmosphere using DAC technology, making it too expensive to be a feasible solution to removing legacy carbon at scale".

"After 100 person-years of practical engineering and cost analysis, we can confidently say that while air capture is not some magical cheap solution, it is a viable and buildable technology for producing carbon-neutral fuels in the immediate future and for removing carbon in the long run", Keith concluded.

That doesn't even factor in the costs associated with global warming, a problem directly associated with rising levels of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Once that's done, heating and a bunch of other chemical reactions are used to re-extract the gas and employ it as a carbon source for the generation of valuable fuels such as gasoline, diesel or jet fuel. Carbon Engineering proudly says that cutting the costs to such an extent is a "real step forward".

The goal is to turn carbon in the air into fuel for cars, boats, and planes. His process, though, could provide the means to adapt to climate change for activities that are hard to do without producing Carbon dioxide emissions, such as jet travel and producing concrete. So the company decided to make a carbon-neutral liquid fuel, said Steve Oldham, CEO of Carbon Engineering.

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 CO2 could be pumped into reserves underground, but Carbon Engineering wants to convert the CO2 into fuel.

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Keith is also the founder of Carbon Engineering, a Calgary-based startup that has spent the last nine years designing, refining, and testing a direct air capture pilot plant in Squamish, British Columbia. The potassium carbonate is converted into a calcium carbonate pellet, which when heated yields CO2. The APS had costs of 780 $/t-CO2-avoided and 550 $/t- CO2-captured, where the emission from electricity supply outside the plant boundary.

The Swiss company Climeworks has a 900 ton of Carbon dioxide per year commercial facility that has been operating since 2017.

That price-point is low enough to use direct air capture to start tackling the roughly 20% of global carbon emissions that result from driving, flying, trucking, and other ways of getting people and goods around.

What's more, the company has developed a process to transform the captured Carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon fuels such as petrol, diesel and jet fuel. A renewable energy-powered electrolyzer first splits water into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen.

But Carbon Engineering claim to have dramatically slashed this, bringing it down to $100 per ton and making the whole process far more economical.

"It's very tough, and even tougher if the Carbon dioxide is from your most expensive source, which is the air", he says. Using standard industrial equipment, Carbon Engineering said it could build full-size plants capable of manufacturing 2,000 barrels of fuels per day. That could drive a market for DAC plants that would likely drive costs down further, Oldham says. With the exception of the USA, which pulled out of the Paris Accord on climate change, most nations plan hefty spending of their own to reduce the production of Carbon dioxide and other global warming gasses.

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