Scientists Take A Massive Step Forward In Converting Air Into Fuel

11 June, 2018, 14:55 | Author: Grady Montgomery
  • Carbon Engineering's pilot plant in Squamish

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

A new application of old technology may be the answer. Commercialization of such plants would allow direct air capture to make a dent in transportation emissions by connecting low-cost renewable energy to low-carbon transportation fuels using Carbon Engineering's AIR TO FUELSTM pathway.

Announced today, Carbon Engineering (CE), a Canadian-based clean energy company, has published new research that proves CO2 can now be captured from the atmosphere for less than $100USD per ton. The results: Their technology can capture Carbon dioxide for between $94 and $232 per ton, they report today in Joule.

The paper could have major ramifications across the industry. They can produce fuel at a cost of about $1 per liter.

But those carbon-neutral fuels won't directly help to reduce carbon in the atmosphere (unless they're used in systems that capture carbon as well).

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 auto. "This paper provides that transparency". After conducting a full process analysis and crunching the numbers, Keith and his colleagues claim that realizing direct air capture on an impactful scale will cost roughly $94-$232 per ton of carbon dioxide captured, which is on the low end of estimates that have ranged up to $1,000 per ton in theoretical analyses.

The DAC technology - combined with access to low-priced, renewable electricity - will allow Carbon Engineering to produce a clean, liquid hydrocarbon fuel that can be mixed with gasoline, and eventually used as a stand-alone fuel, said the former University of Calgary professor who maintains a home in Canmore, Alta.




The Carbon Engineering team's approach differs from their few competitors in the field.

They say, if their technique is successfully implemented at scale, it could reverse the problem of climate change and give humanity a decisive new tool in the race against a warming planet. "That's the design choice we made".

If the company can qualify for government subsidies, the price of recycling CO2 could be cheaper than the price of carbon credits under California's cap-and-trade program. "We look forward to working with Senator Bennet to secure passage of this important piece of the broader carbon capture technology agenda". The carbonate is then converted into pellets in equipment originally created to extract minerals in water-treatment plants. It will interesting to see its calculations for the synthetic fuel pilot plant in a future publication.

Noah Deich is the executive director of the Center for Carbon Removal. And a spokesman for the firm said it can readily scale up using off-the-rack hardware, The downside is that the plant is now using some natural gas for power, but the goal is to switch to renewable electricity.

This technology could be a way to clean the air by reusing the carbon dioxide from the air and not extracting it from the ground.

In addition, the technology is location-independent, which should add to its allure, said Joe Lassiter, retired Senior Fellow and Senator John Heinz Professor of Management Practice in Environmental Management at the Harvard Business School.

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