Pilot plant demonstrates low-priced conversion of Carbon dioxide into fuel

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

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

Direct air capture (DAC) systems have been discussed as a possibility for decades but it was, until recently, deemed too expensive to be practical.

Carbon Engineering claims that by burning the company's gas in the vehicle, no fresh carbon-dioxide is released from the tailpipe and into Earth's atmosphere as this carbon dioxide came from the air in the first place. This unit would be one of several that would collectively capture 1M tons of Carbon dioxide per year. However, the company plan to use the gas - with the addition of hydrogen derived from water - to make a carbon-neutral synthetic fuel that can be directly used by cars, boats, and planes. "This is real", he said. That's because the new study bases its numbers on data and costs from a real pilot facility, whereas others have relied on scientists' best guesses of how Carbon dioxide capture technologies scale up.

The result will be a "completely carbon-neutral fuel", he said.

Until now, the cost of climate change has been all about projections. So the company decided to make a carbon-neutral liquid fuel, said Steve Oldham, CEO of Carbon Engineering.

"We would not be in business if carbon pricing did not exist". By using industrial scale carbon scrubbers, the researchers hopes to eventually build a new industrial empire to recycle greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere to produce much-needed fuels. This plan not only removes Carbon dioxide from the air but also uses the captured Carbon dioxide to create fuel.

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.

The research was led by David Keith, a Harvard Professor and founder of CE, and published by Joule, a leading scientific journal dedicated to ground-breaking energy research.

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

Keith co-founded Carbon Engineering in 2009, when direct air capture was still on the fringes of industrial climate solutions. After capturing the Carbon dioxide in solution, the plant transfers it into a solid, which when heated releases it in a pure gas stream.

In 2011, a pair of influential papers all but sounded the death knell for direct air capture, concluding that the approach would cost almost an order of magnitude more than capturing the greenhouse gas from power-plant stacks. Swiss-based Climeworks has already built a commercial-scale plant.

"Direct air collection is a politically promising way to get rid of carbon dioxide", said Oliver Geden of the German Institute for worldwide and Security Affairs.

Finally, the carbon dioxide is combined with hydrogen and converted into liquid fuels, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

Carbon Engineering has issued a study proving that it is possible to capture carbon at a cost of $100 per tonne, which means a cost that is 6 times lower than the current cost of $600 per tonne.

"It's very tough, and even tougher if the Carbon dioxide is from your most expensive source, which is the air", he says. They will use the gas to make synthetic, low-carbon fuels.

"Until you really can confirm the costs and performance at scale, you've always got to take those costs with a grain of salt", he says. "This opens up the possibility that we could stabilize the climate for affordable amounts of money without changing the entire energy system or changing everyone's behavior".

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