Canadian firm publishes details on Carbon dioxide to fuel pilot

Canadian firm publishes details on Carbon dioxide to fuel pilot

This would be a major advance on the current price of around $600 per tonne.

The company envisions building large-scale plants near wind and solar facilities, which will provide clean energy to enable the carbon capture process, he said.

Scientists have always been skeptical towards the technological advances allowing for carbon emissions and thus climate change to be reduced. But if it's cheap, at least more people will be interested.

Direct air capture technology works nearly exactly like it sounds.

Last year, a Swiss company called Climeworks unveiled a direct air capture installation that extracted carbon and supplied it to a neighbouring greenhouse to fertilise tomatoes and cucumbers. "We can keep collecting carbon dioxide with direct air capture, keep adding hydrogen generation and fuel synthesis, and keep reducing emissions".

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. In that tower, the air comes into contact with a substance that reacts with the CO2.

CE's direct air capture equipment.

A previous study carried out by the American Physical Society in 2011suggested that the cost per tonne of direct air capture would be around $600. Using limestone, hydrogen, and air, the carbon dioxide goes through chemical reactions that will create a synthetic fuel (gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel).

This can then be used one of two ways. By removing emitted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turning it into fresh fuels, engineers at a Canadian firm have demonstrated a scalable and cost-effective way to make deep cuts in the carbon footprint of transportation with minimal disruption to existing vehicles.

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Carbon Engineering, which has about 40 employees and produces about a tonne of carbon dioxide a day from an experimental plant.

The fuel can now be produced at a cost that would not raise the prices to consumers at the pump, he said, and "as with anything, if you build lots of something the cost will come down".

Others in the industry welcomed the fact that Carbon Engineering were bringing down costs, but felt that further incentives from governments were needed for carbon capture, utilisation and storage to achieve its potential. Sequestration of carbon captured from the air would amount to a net reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere, known as negative emissions.

The facility uses "contactors", sort of the opposite of a smokestack, to suck in air and expose it to an alkaline liquid that Carbon dioxide naturally wants to combine with.

So, let's just say it: we are not on track to meet the ambitious goals of the Paris Accord, the ambitious worldwide agreement meant to limit global warming. The technical solutions to climate change are already available but national legislations do not provide enough incentive or obligations for them to be applied at a large scale. With the exception of the US, which pulled out of the Paris Accord on climate change, most nations plan hefty spending of their own to reduce the production of Carbon dioxide and other global warming gasses.

Those involved with Carbon Engineering are acutely aware of the challenges. It should be operational in 2020, said Keith.

However he believes the question of decarbonising aviation and heavy transportation can not be met by electric vehicles alone.

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