For decades, carbon capture has seemed like a promising solution.
The process is electricity-intensive, and the steep decline in wind and solar energy is as critical to the company's business model as the success in driving down the cost of direct carbon capture, Dr. Keith said.
As policy-makers work on ways to try to keep global warming within the two-degree limit of the Paris agreement, fears have been raised that carbon dioxide emissions won't be cut fast enough.
Oldham said he's in talks with oil and natural gas companies interested in using his fuel in markets with carbon restrictions.
Direct air capture technology works nearly exactly like it sounds.
In a study published online Thursday in Joule, scientists at the Canadian company Carbon Engineering explained their CO2 extraction plans. The first can pull 900 tons of Carbon dioxide from the air each year for use in greenhouses.
"Direct air capture technology offers a highly-scalable pathway to removing carbon from the atmosphere". "We now have the data and engineering to prove that DAC can achieve costs below $100 per ton". These contactors resemble industrial cooling towers: They have large fans to inhale air from the outside world, and they're lined with corrugated plastic structures that allow as much air as possible to come into contact with the liquid.
CE's direct air capture equipment. But in 2011, a review panel of the American Physical Society found that DAC would likely cost about $600 per ton of captured CO2.
These processes are not really new in industry, and thus have a good chance of being scaled up, says David Keith, a professor of applied physics at Harvard who founded Carbon Engineering to commercialize his technology.
"I hope this changes views about this technology from being this thing which people think is a magic saviour which it isn't, or that it is absurdly expensive which it isn't, to an industrial technology that is do-able and can be developed in a useful way".
Through heating and a handful of familiar chemical reactions, that carbon dioxide is re-extracted and can be used as a carbon source for making valuable chemicals like fuels or for storage via a sequestration strategy. "Our clean fuel is fully compatible with existing engines, so it provides the transportation sector with a solution for significantly reducing emissions, either through blending or direct use".
Carbon Engineering, which has about 40 employees and produces about a tonne of carbon dioxide a day from an experimental plant.
The firm believes that this approach to liquid fuel has major advantages over biofuels in that it uses far less land and water. 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 implications of CE's proven DAC technology on climate strategy are twofold - it allows the removal of existing Carbon dioxide from the air to counteract emissions too challenging or costly to eliminate at source, and enables the production of clean fuels that can significantly reduce transportation emissions.
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.