A Canadian start-up company is developing an industrial recycling plant that could take carbon dioxide and convert it into environmentally friendly fuel.
Partly funded by Bill Gates – who recently announced plans to invest $2bn into innovative green technologies in the next five years – Carbon Engineering’s (CE) technology will mix the carbon dioxide with hydrogen split from water to create hydrocarbon fuel. The CE website comments that taking the CO2 straight from the air allows emissions originating from any source to be managed with standardised scalable industrial facilities.
Guilio Prisco at Hacked interviewed Geoff Holmes, CE Business Development Manager who said that they have designed the technology which will “process ambient atmospheric air (where CO2 exists at 400 ppm concentration), scrub out the CO2, and provide it as a pure compressed stream for use or storage.”
According to the CE website, CO2 can remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, negatively affecting the environment and polluting the earth. The company is one in only a few establishments around the world that are attempting to take enough CO2 out of the atmosphere to help the fight against climate change.
CE’s design, called a Direct Air Capture System (DAC) could take the emissions from up to 300,000 cars by using a device called a contactor, which naturally absorbs the gas in the atmosphere and converts it into a liquid form that is high in CO2. The system requires an energy source, but CE has ensured that the energy is generated at the site, thus any emissions can be absorbed by the contactor in the system.
The liquid form that is created by the DAC is directed to a regeneration cycle that extracts the CO2 while restoring the original solution to be re-used in the contactor. The captured CO2 is then mixed with all CO2 from the DAC’s energy output and both are transported as a high-pressure quality product to be used in pipelines or stored underground.
Air capture can remove more CO2 per acre of land footprint than trees and plants and creates a pure stream of the gas as its output for use in industrial applications or storage. The plan for the system is to eventually complement other renewable energy systems by using it in the transport sector.
CE’s system is currently in its pilot demonstration phase, with a plant ready to capture almost one ton of CO2 each day to show and test the design. The system could be scaled up to 20,000 times to make it more practical and would require 1,000 times less land than trees and can be built on land that isn’t habitable, like deserts.
Direct air capture is said to be paramount according to CE, as CO2 that is currently emitted from planes, cars and other vehicles make up 60 per cent of emissions and DAC is potentially one of the most realistic ways to power the transport sector in an environmentally-friendly way.
Watch the video below for Carbon Engineering's plans.