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Technologies may reduce cost of carbon uptake from atmosphere
11 June 2018, 02:53 | Ross Houston
B.C. start-up says it can slash carbon-capture costs, replace gasoline at competitive price
But many experts say that even if all emissions stopped tomorrow, the planet would continue to warm and seas would continue to rise.
It aims at the eventual construction of a vast, industrial-scale network of carbon scrubbers, capable of removing greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere.
"At Carbon Engineering, we now have the data and engineering to prove that DAC can achieve costs below $100 (U.S.)", he said.
A new application of old technology may be the answer.
Previous research and studies into direct air capture (DAC) have suggested that removing a ton of Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would cost US$600, which is too expensive to be a feasible solution, Keith said.
"This isn't going to save the world from the impacts of climate change, but it's going to be a big step on the path to a low-carbon economy", said David Keith, a Harvard Professor of Applied Physics and founder of Carbon Engineering.
Carbon Engineering (CE), a company that is partly owned by Bill Gates has partnered with a team from Harvard University to develop this technology, which the company says can now directly capture co2 from the atmosphere for less than $100 per ton in a method they call Direct Air Capture (DAC). Depending on a variety of design options and economic assumptions, the cost of pulling a tonne of Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere ranges between US$94 and $232.
The paper could have major ramifications across the industry. Each day they absorb about a ton of Carbon dioxide, but they're working on blueprints for a much larger facility which could potentially filter a million tons of Carbon dioxide per year. This solution is then heated and treated, to kick off chemical reactions making it possible to re-extract this carbon dioxide to be used for making chemicals needed for fuel, or for storage. "This paper provides that transparency".
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Banks of fans blow air through a carbon dioxide-capturing solution in this rendering of a direct air capture plant. Carbon Engineering's goal is to use direct air capture to produce carbon-neutral fuels and converting carbon-free energy into high-energy fuels for vehicles such as planes and barges, which are hard to electrify.
Carbon Engineering's next step is to build a full-scale plant. Since its components are off the rack, it should be easy to scale up, Oldham said. All of the technology required to build the new carbon capture system already exists, according to MIT Technology Review.
For decades, carbon capture has seemed like a promising solution.
Carbon Engineering's fuel costs about 25 per cent more than gasoline made from oil.
Set up in 2009 with funding from Microsoft's Bill Gates and Canada oil sands financier Norman Murray Edwards, their pilot plant has been running since 2015, capturing about one tonne of Carbon dioxide per day.
Noah Deich is the executive director of the Center for Carbon Removal.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reported in 2016 that electrolysis using wind power could provide hydrogen at a cost of about $4.50 per kilogram. The market will get a further boost as the Canadian government and US states adopt clean fuel standards that will provide incentives for marketers to purchase low-carbon alternatives. "As a result, ADM significantly reduces the carbon intensity of the ethanol they're producing, which in turn can make them eligible to sell into low-carbon fuel markets".
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