Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Cost plunges for capturing carbon dioxide from the air

The pilot plant in Canada Carbon Engineering The pilot plant in Canada
Eleanor Moreno | 11 June, 2018, 14:57

Carbon Engineering (CE) has published new research that proves CO2 can now be captured from the atmosphere for less than $100USD per ton using its proprietary Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology.

Scientists say the high cost of collecting greenhouse gases from the air in the upper atmosphere may be reduced by new technologies that can help fight climate change. This was said by David Keith, who is the professor of applied physics and also the public policy at Havard University.

"The carbon dioxide generated via direct air capture can be combined with sequestration for carbon removal, or it can enable the production of carbon-neutral hydrocarbons, which is a way to take low-priced carbon-free power sources like solar or wind and channel them into fuels that can be used to decarbonise the transportation sector", said lead author David Keith, founder and chief scientist of Carbon Engineering and a professor of applied physics and public policy at Harvard University.

Getting it right also meant keeping the costs below $100 for each ton of Carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. The findings are based on the three years of research at the pilot plant in Squamish, British Columbia. The company used existing industrial processes to scale up and reduce costs.

An industrial plant, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, could capture a million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to emissions by 250,000 cars.

In 2011, the American Physical Society published a research showing that the costs to remove Carbon dioxide from the air would be $600.


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. If you think about it, it doesn't make much of a difference in keeping global warming to less than 2 degrees C when you think about how the world burns just enough fossil fuels to add to 40 billion tonnes of CO2.

As we continue to search for ways to cut emissions and slow down the effects of climate change, our best shot may just be using a method that clearly "sucks".

"It's unlike Carbon dioxide capture that's created to work from a power plant". It is already operating a pilot plant in Squamish, less than an hour's drive from Vancouver. 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. It emits the same amount of Carbon dioxide that went into making it when it's burned and it all costs around $100 per ton.

Keith is also a founder along with chief scientist of Carbon Engineering, which is a Canadian firm that has been developing this technology. Doing that on a large scale would nearly surely require significant cost reductions, a high price on carbon, or other public policy support. British Columbia has a carbon price of C$35 a ton, and all of Canada will have a $10 price in September that will rise to C$50 in 2022. 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.

Carbon Engineering's fuel qualifies as a high-grade renewable fuel under the Environmental Protection Agency's renewable fuel mandate, allowing it to fetch premium prices.

"This same method can also be seen as ". a way to take low-priced carbon-free power sources like solar or wind and channel them into fuels that can be used to decarbonize the transportation sector", he explained. After each step, the Carbon dioxide gets cleaner and the substance reacting with the Carbon dioxide is returned to where it belongs: the air contractor.

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