Editorial Feature

Carbon Engineering's Industrial-Scale Direct Air Capture Solutions

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Never before have organizations across the globe been under so much pressure to cut carbon emissions as environmental goals tighten in the fight against climate change. Carbon Engineering’s carbon capture technology, Direct Air Capture, can accelerate our efforts in meeting these green goals.

Climate change manifests itself through rising sea levels, intensifying heatwaves, warming oceans, increasing floods, stronger wildfires, and melting glaciers. The year 2020 has seen some of these extremes already, from the Californian wildfires to record-breaking summer temperatures in Europe. Researchers at NASA recently observed with satellite data that the Arctic ice cap shrank to its annual minimum, and second-lowest minimum extent on record.

To combat climate change, reducing harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential, as this is the main greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. A 2019 consensus report by the National Academies eluded that carbon dioxide removal methods could offset up to 10 gigatons of CO2 each year. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark special report revealing the importance of reducing these emissions now, as the Paris Agreement set the objective to keep global warming well below 2°C.

The collective aim being widely adopted by authorities and organizations is to reach net-zero by 2050. This can be achieved when reduced emissions are equivalent to the harmful greenhouse gases that are rising. Countries across the globe have committed to this goal. Among them, Canada is ahead of the curve.

Video Credit: Carbon Engineering Ltd./YouTube.com

Canada’s Commitment to Cutting Carbon

The Government of Canada is committed to cutting carbon for the sake of the global environment and preserving northern indigenous communities who are at higher risk of its effects. While at the COP25 UN Climate Change Conference in 2019, Minister Wilkinson iterated Canada’s commitment to take climate action, aiming to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050. 

The British Colombia (B.C.) government set targets to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in 2030, 60% in 2040, and 80% by 2050. In 2010, B.C. became the first government to take full responsibility for emissions across all of its 128 public sector organizations by monitoring and reducing emissions.

Click here to find out more about clean energy solutions.

How to Reach Net-Zero

We can switch to green energy, such as solar and wind, or sustainable transport, such as electric vehicles. However, to achieve net-zero, experts believe we must rely on carbon capture technologies that remove large amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Named a technology pioneer by the World Economic Forum, Carbon Engineering agrees that climate change can be addressed in the future if we work to advance our new sustainable technologies and innovations. Carbon Engineering helps create this future with its Direct Air Capture technology, which eliminates carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Having taken a decade to produce, the technology was demonstrated from the pilot facility in Squamish, Canada, and is now being commercialized at an industrial level to achieve one million tons of captured CO2 each year. While industrial volumes of the CO2 can be safely stored underground, the company can also produce clean transportation fuels that replace fossil fuels.

There are other forms of greenhouse gas removal, which are both natural and technological.

The Earth already has its natural forms of carbon capture and storage seen in wetlands, peatlands, soils, and forests. A significant limitation is that the impacts these environments have on reducing global warming are difficult to measure. When burned or exposed, their carbon stores are released back into the atmosphere. Human-made solutions involve afforestation, where trees are planted, or wetland restoration, though impacts are hard to see within our lifetime. There is the technological solution of removing harmful gases from flue-gas stacks (industrial chimneys), though Direct Air Capture does more than prevent CO2 emissions - it removes them. Experts claim that carbon dioxide removal techniques such as Direct Air Capture are needed to accelerate our progress in reducing emissions.

Leading the Way for Change

The largest Direct Air Capture facility in the world is currently under construction in the Permian Basin of Texas. It is predicted to take around one million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year. Occidental Petroleum with Rusheen Capital Management followed plans outlined by Carbon Engineering to set it up. Carbon Engineering hopes this will be the start of more air capture plants to come and spur enterprises into action to cut emissions.

More authorities and policymakers are supporting reduced emissions for our future in a bid to fight climate change. Adapting to meet these targets can be a challenge. Founded over a decade ago, Carbon Engineering is helping organizations work to meet net-zero targets by offering carbon removal solutions.

As an emerging technology, Direct Air Capture is a promising solution. If it can be deployed at a large enough scale, this could help us reach net-zero by 2050, alongside other mitigation activities.

Read more: Fighting Climate Change with a Groundbreaking Carbon Dioxide Removal Plant

References and Further Reading

NASA Earth Observatory (2020) Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Second-Lowest Extent [Online] Available at: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/147306/arctic-sea-ice-reaches-second-lowest-extent#:~:text=Analyses%20of%20satellite%20data%20showed,second-lowest%20minimum%20on%20record (Accessed on 22 September 2020).

Government of Canada (2019) Canada advanced climate action and remains committed to ambitious global action as United Nations Climate Change Conference concludes [Online] Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2019/12/canada-advanced-climate-action-and-remains-committed-to-ambitious-global-action-as-united-nations-climate-change-conference-concludes.html (Accessed 22 September 2020).

Carbon Engineering [Online] Available at: https://carbonengineering.com (Accessed 22 September 2020).

United Nations Climate Change. Carbon Neutral Government Program|Canada [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/climate-action/momentum-for-change/climate-neutral-now/carbon-neutral-government-program-canada (Accessed 22 September 2020).

Keith et al. (2005) Climate strategy with CO2 capture from the air. Clim. Change 74, 17–45. https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00003926/document

Geman, B. (2020) Occidental Petroleum teams with private equity firm to deploy carbon capture tech in U.S [Online] Axios. Available at: https://www.axios.com/occidental-petroleum-carbon-capture-rusheen-ca90b907-aa84-4d03-848e-46b964da285a.html (Accessed 22 September 2020).

Realmonte et al. (2019) An inter-model assessment of the role of direct air capture in deep mitigation pathways. Nature Communications. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10842-5

IPCC. Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C approved by government [Online] Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/2018/10/08/summary-for-policymakers-of-ipcc-special-report-on-global-warming-of-1-5c-approved-by-governments/ (Accessed 22 September 2020).

BCBUSINESS. (2020) Three B.C. companies recognized as technology pioneers by the World Economic Forum [Online] Available at: https://www.bcbusiness.ca/Three-BC-companies-recognized-as-technology-pioneers-by-the-World-Economic-Forum (Accessed 22 September 2020).

Vergragt et al. (2011) Carbon capture and storage, bio-energy with carbon capture and storage, and the escape from the fossil-fuel lock-in. Global Environmental Change. 21 (2): 282–92. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.01.020

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Clarissa Wright

Written by

Clarissa Wright

Clarissa is a freelance writer specializing in science communication, contributing to a range of online media. Due to her lifelong interest in the natural world, she studied a BSc in Geology & Petroleum Geology at the University of Aberdeen, and a Master’s degree in Applied & Petroleum Micropalaeontology at the University of Birmingham.

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