Carbon Engineering Pinpoints “Easy” Way To Decarbonize Transportation - CleanTechnica

UPDATE!! More information about the encouraging news on the cost of atmospheric carbon capture.

Remember: This is a VERY important step towards building a carbon-negative economy. Although this method of turning recycled CO2 into fuel that's burned again is carbon-neutral (the process will be powered by renewable energy), it paves the way for us to be able to economically remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere on a large scale.

This technology that can capture CO2 pollution right from the air around us means that we could eventually stop drilling for oil and instead make fuel out of recycled greenhouse gas emissions. Someday, these emissions will be permanently removed from the atmosphere using both natural and man-made methods.

CleanTechnica did a very informative interview with Carbon Engineering CEO Steve Oldham. You may remember this is the company that recently released a report showing that capturing CO2 from the atmosphere can be done for a lower cost than was thought possible - all while using technology and processes that exist today.

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Sucking Carbon Dioxide from Air Is Cheaper Than Scientists Thought - Nature

BIG NEWS!! This is a FANTASTIC development. 

Direct air capture - the most expensive and, arguably, the most important form of carbon capture - just got a lot cheaper. This is where carbon dioxide is captured from the air around us - lowering the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and helping us to reverse climate change.

In 2011, it was calculated that this would cost $600 per ton of CO2 - making it far too expensive to be used on a large scale. However, thanks to the hard work of the people at Carbon Engineering, this can now be done for somewhere between $94 to $232 per ton. That captured CO2 would then be turned into carbon-neutral gasoline and sold. 

As more research is done, prices should fall even more. This must be scaled up ASAP. Carbon Engineering hopes to build a facility that can produce 200 barrels of fuel per day by 2021 before moving to a larger facility that can produce 2,000 barrels of fuel per day.

The article before this from the BBC, The Atlantic, and National Geographic also cover this exciting development.

A Different Kind of Clean Energy - Scientific American

Happy World Environment Day!

The absolute best way to repair and protect our environment is to combat and reverse climate change.

How do we do that?

Well, aside from ending our dependence on fossil fuels, we must do everything we can to support technologies that capture, store, and use carbon emissions on a massive scale.

The Inconvenient Truth About Carbon Capture - The Washington Post

Simply put, carbon capture (and utilization) is necessary for the stability of civilization and the long-term survival of humanity. We won’t be able to keep climate change under control without it. Unfortunately, we’re way behind where we should be in halting greenhouse gas emissions and developing the solutions needed to reverse the problem. Right now, we’re relying on technologies that look promising, but still must be developed further and adopted on a massive scale. 

“All the blame is on us: we have simply been too slow to reduce emissions, leaving us in a dire situation where we are going to have to depend on technologies that may not be available in time.”

As exciting and inspiring as CCUS technologies are, the truth is that most of them are still in the early stages of development when we need them right now. This is why we must come up with new ways to speed up the normal process of innovation - which usually takes decades for technologies of this scale and impact. 

Solar energy, for example, took nearly half a century to go from being used on small spacecraft in the late 50s to now being a competitive and growing source of renewable energy around the world. 

If we allow carbon capture to take the same amount of time to reach maturity (as shown in the graphic in the article), it will be too late. 

We must ensure that multiple CCUS technologies are deployed (adopted is a better word, as the article points out) simultaneously to keep a diversified portfolio of options at our disposal. We must focus on early deployment and scale-up, finding niche markets that can use CCUS immediately, and educating the public and governments about these solutions. It won’t be easy, but we can make this happen.

Apple Looks to ‘Green’ Metal for Use in iPhone and Macbook - Financial Times

Apple is backing a joint venture between two mining giants (Alcoa and Rio Tinto) to commercialize a new technology that eliminates greenhouse gas emissions from aluminum smelting. The new venture, called Elysis, will eventually allow Apple (and other companies) to use carbon neutral aluminum in their products.

That's great! Let's now aim for carbon negative, though.

Manufacturing Goes Carbon Negative - Strategy+Business

In order for us to have a chance at winning the fight against climate change, simply going carbon neutral isn't enough. Countries and companies must go carbon negative. This means removing CO2 from the atmosphere and restoring balance to the Earth's carbon cycle. 

Manufacturing is a major source of CO2 emissions. Companies are now looking at capturing those emissions and using them to make products.
Learn how one company went from emitting 37 pounds of CO2 for every square yard of carpet produced in 1996, to having a new carpet prototype that actually REMOVES 3.7 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere for every square yard produced in 2018. 

We must deploy innovations like that on a massive scale.

California Is Turning Farms into Carbon-Sucking Factories - Grist

Great news from California! The state is continuing to lead the way in the fight against climate change and is now using its cap-and-trade program to fund important research on how improved farming methods can remove large amounts CO2 from the atmosphere (also called carbon farming). This is especially exciting since increasing the amount of CO2 soils absorb can also improve soil health and increase crop yields. 

"In a grand experiment, California switched on a fleet of high-tech greenhouse gas removal machines last month... These wonderfully complex machines are more high-tech than anything humans have designed. They’re called plants."

US Department of Energy NETL Carbon Utilization Guide - US DoE

Check out this helpful and educational carbon utilization guide from the US Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). It shows all the current uses for captured carbon (cement, plastic, etc.); as well as a list of ongoing carbon utilization projects in the US.

Pioneers of Carbon Dioxide Removal See Boon for Renewables - Bloomberg Environment

Removing CO2 from the atmosphere using technological methods will require large amounts of energy. This means that deploying CCUS technologies on the MASSIVE scale that's needed to avoid catastrophic climate change could be a boon for renewable energy! We need to make sure the right policies are in place to ensure this happens.

What Is Carbon Capture? - Popular Mechanics

Whether you're new to the CCUS world or not, this article provides a great overview of the technology and where we are in the fight against climate change. One thing is abundantly clear, we must speed up the deployment of CCUS. This means effective policymaking, increased awareness, and, most importantly, LOTS of research and development! 

"This isn't exactly the best place to be when fighting climate change. We're still operating under the assumption that CCS will be successful without knowing for sure if it will be. But we have no other choice. Either we figure out how to capture CO2 from the air, or the Earth will be irreversibly ravaged by the effects of climate change. For all our sakes, let's hope it's the former."

How Oman’s Rocks Could Help Save the Planet - The New York Times

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Learn how we could potentially harness the natural process of carbon mineralization to capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store it safely forever. Rocks, yes, rocks, have already absorbed billions of tons of emitted CO2; and there are special formations around the world that do a particularly good job at it. Many of these formations - mostly consisting of a rock called Peridotite - are found in Oman.

Read the article here.   

The Daunting Math of Climate Change Means We’ll Need Carbon Capture - MIT Technology Review

Great interview with Julio Friedmann. He was in charge of research and development for carbon capture technology at the US Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy under the Obama Administration and has emerged as a huge advocate for CCUS. Hear what he has to say about recent developments in the CCUS world and where the space is headed. 

Ten Teams from Five Countries Advance to Finals of $20M NRG | COSIA Carbon XPRIZE


The 10 finalists in the NRG | COSIA Carbon XPRIZE were announced earlier this month at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York City. The teams represent five countries and cover a wide range of applications for recycling CO2 emissions. 

They must now demonstrate that their technologies can convert CO2 emissions on a larger scale at one of two test facilities - one in Alberta, Canada and one in the US state of Wyoming. A winner will be selected from each track in two years. 

Alberta gas-fired power plant track:

C2CNT from Ashburn, VA, USA making carbon nanotubes.

Carbicrete from Montreal, Canada making cement-free, carbon-negative concrete using waste from steel production.

Carbon Upcycling Technologies from Calgary, Canada making enhanced graphitic nanoparticles and graphene derivatives to be used in polymers, concrete, epoxies, batteries, and pharmaceuticals.

CERT from Toronto, Canada making the building blocks for industrial chemicals.

Newlight from Huntington Beach, CA, USA making bioplastics using biological systems.

Gillette, Wyoming coal-fired power plant track:

Breathe from Bangalore, India making methanol. 

C4X from Suzhou, China making chemicals and bio-composite foamed plastics.

Carbon Capture Machine from Aberdeen, Scotland making solid carbonates to be used in building materials.

Carbon Upcycling UCLA from Los Angeles, CA, USA making building materials that absorb CO2 during the production process to replace concrete.  

The CUA will keep you posted on their progress and tell you more about each individual company. Stay tuned!

Good luck to the XPRIZE finalists!

It’s also worth mentioning that the teams that didn't make it to this stage are still making great progress and will play an important role in our fight against climate change.

A Bipartisan US Group Introduced Another Bill to Support a Controversial Climate Technology - Quartz

Here’s a great overview of the USE IT Act (the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act) that we talked about last week. It was introduced by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Barrasso (R-WY), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to build off of the 45Q tax credits and provide the CCUS space with the support it needs to grow.

As mentioned in the article, it hopes to accomplish this goal by creating:

1.) Funding for research on carbon capture, use, and storage, under the Clean Air Act. This would include specific funding for direct air capture, technology that would pull carbon dioxide from the air.

2.) A competition to promote technology development in the private sector. Prizes would be awarded to tech proven to capture 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air at a cost under $200 per ton. (It’s worth noting that the target sum for direct air capture is a lot higher than for capturing emissions from sources like power plants. That’s because the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air is less than 1/100th of that in, say, the exhaust of a coal power plant.)

3.) A board of experts to oversee carbon capture projects and provide technical support to states looking to use the technology.

4.) A way to promote the development of carbon dioxide pipelines, which can carry the captured emissions from the source to a place they can be safely buried.

If this is passed, it would be a major step forward and provide the necessary infrastructure for CCUS technologies to succeed.

This is another piece by Akshat Rathi, who has done a fantastic job reviewing the CCUS world through a series of pieces that cover everything from breakthroughs in technology to government legislation.

Once We Can Capture CO2 Emissions, Here's What We Could Do with It -

Utilization. Capturing CO2 and turning it into molecules that can be used as the building blocks for a large number of important products we use every day; that’s what the U in CCUS is all about.  It’s what makes these technologies so exciting: and the number of potential applications is constantly growing. We could transform several polluting industries into forces that have a positive impact on our climate, create jobs, and improve the economy. 

"Similar to how a plant takes carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water to make sugars for itself, we are interested in using technology to take energy from the sun or other renewable sources to convert CO2 into small building block molecules which can then be upgraded using traditional means of chemistry for commercial use," says Phil De Luna, a PhD candidate in materials science [at the University of Toronto]. "We're taking inspiration from nature and doing it faster and more efficiently."

It’s encouraging to see people looking more seriously at CCUS and acknowledging that it will be a crucial part of our future. The timeline shown in this article will only improve as more investment into research and development pours in.