Oil industry giants investing in carbon capture techShawn Martin | February 15, 2019
Venture capitalist subsidiaries of the Chevron Corporation and Occidental Petroleum Corporation are investing in innovative low-carbon technologies developed by Carbon Engineering (CE).
The two leaders in the oil and gas industry are investing in CE to help accelerate the commercialization of their clean air technologies. Investments being made by Oxy Low Carbon Ventures LLC and Chevron Technology Ventures, subsidiaries of Occidental Petroleum Corporation and Chevron Corporation, respectively, mark the first significant collaborative movement between the energy industry and carbon capture technology.
CE has been developing direct air capture (DAC) technology since its inception in 2009. DAC is an atmospheric-carbon capture technology that produces purified, compressed carbon dioxide. The technology is both flexible and scalable.
CE has a functional pilot plant based on their DAC technology in Squamish, British Columbia, that has been operational since 2015, and have continued to develop the technology. A single commercial facility is claimed to have an annual capacity of up to 1 million tons of CO2 and supports industrial-scale CO2 removal. They estimate that each ton of sequestered CO2 would cost approximately $100 to $150.
The current focus of CE is to use DAC technology to produce clean-burning liquid fuels through Air to Fuels technology. Air to Fuels utilizes the sequestered CO2 from a DAC plant to produce liquid fuels, including diesel and jet fuel. The synthetic fuels produced are a drop-in replacement for traditional fossil fuels and would be compatible with existing infrastructure. The fuels produced are blendable with traditional fossil fuels, allowing for a gradual switch over.
Air to Fuels technology is based on DAC and electrolysis. Sequestered CO2 from a DAC plant is thermo-catalytically reacted with hydrogen to produce syngas, which is further processed into liquid fuel. Renewable energy technologies electrolyze water and produce liquid fuels with an acclaimed cost of less than a dollar per liter, which is cost competitive with biodiesel.