Artistic rendering of what a future industrialized scale Carbon Engineering plant could look like.
This would be a major advance on the current price of around $600 per tonne.
The process is electricity-intensive, and the steep decline in wind and solar energy is as critical to the company's business model as the success in driving down the cost of direct carbon capture, Dr. Keith said.
The new technology suggests a different path to cutting back the carbon dioxide in the air that is causing climate change. The crucial CO2-capturing chemical is recycled. 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.
The idea of direct air capture is hardly new, but the successful implementation of a scalable and cost-effective working pilot plant is. The solution reacts with Carbon dioxide to produce potassium carbonate.
CE's direct air capture equipment.
In 2011, the American Physical Society published a research showing that the costs to remove Carbon dioxide from the air would be $600. "These guys actually have something you can measure", says Stephen Pacala, an ecologist with Princeton University who is chairing a panel on carbon removal technologies for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Putnam: Background checks were done; my office didn't check them
That would be Republican Adam Putnam , the state's current Agriculture Commissioner who is also now running for governor. In all that time , though, tens of thousands of concealed permit applications were being approved.
'I hope to show that this as a viable energy industrial technology, not something that is a magic bullet. but something that is completely doable, ' he told Reuters of the peer-reviewed study published in the journal Joule.
Through heating and a handful of familiar chemical reactions, that same carbon dioxide is re-extracted and ready for further use -as a carbon source for making valuable chemicals like fuels, or for storage via a sequestration strategy of choice.
This can then be used one of two ways.
"You can make gasoline or diesel fuel [via direct air capture] but, of course, they didn't come from the ground, so the amount of carbon they emit when they burn is just the amount you used making them, so they're carbon neutral", says Keith.
"We see our long-term fuels plant as being roughly 2,000 barrels a day, but the next one we build will be the first real commercial plant but will be 10 times smaller than that - we are developing that right now, looking for very cheap solar or wind power and looking for investors". The finished product would use less land and water than other types of biofuels, fuels created from a living organism such as ethanol or biodiesel.
While Carbon Engineering's $4 price point is about 40 percent higher than fossil fuels, it may be competitive in markets like California that require cleaner low-carbon fuels, Keith said. When configured for this goal, the company was able to bring down the costs of pulling carbon from the air.
The implications of CE's proven DAC technology on climate strategy are twofold - it allows the removal of existing Carbon dioxide from the air to counteract emissions too challenging or costly to eliminate at source, and enables the production of clean fuels that can significantly reduce transportation emissions.
"The biggest challenge we are facing is, however, that the words agreed on in the Paris agreement must be followed by actions".