Energy and Natural Resources

Carbon Engineering Will Remove CO2 from Air, Turn it to Fuel

08 February 2018

Located in Sqaumish, Canada, is a facility composed of pipes, pumps, tanks, reactors, chimneys and ducts that are tasked with extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to combat climate change.

Source: Carbon EngineeringSource: Carbon Engineering

According to The Guardian, Carbon Engineering (CE) built the facility to decelerate climate change, while also converting the collected carbon dioxide into clean, carbonless and safe fuel. The company was founded in 2009 by Harvard geophysicist David Keith, tech tycoon and philanthropist Bill Gates and the oil sands businessman Norman Murray Edwards.

Carbon Engineering uses direct air capture (DAC), which is capable of decarbonizing the air at large scale. The method is mimicking photosynthesis, as DAC extracts carbon dioxide much like plants do.

Carbon Engineering has been extracting one ton of pure carbon dioxide per day, that until recently was been released back into the air. However, Carbon Engineering, in partnership with Greyrock, has initiated a process called Air to Fuel (A2F), which makes a diesel-gasoline type of fuel using capture carbon dioxide and hydrogen from water.

“A2F is a potentially game-changing technology, which if successfully scaled up will allow us to harness cheap, intermittent renewable electricity to drive synthesis of liquid fuels that are compatible with modern infrastructure and engines,” says Geoff Holmes of CE. “This offers an alternative to biofuels and a complement to electric vehicles in the effort to displace fossil fuels from transportation. We think our pilot plant is the first instance of Air to Fuels where all the equipment has large-scale industrial precedent, and thus gives real indication of commercial performance and viability, and leads directly to scale-up and deployment,” Holmes adds.

Other technologies have been developed to extract carbon dioxide from air. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) captures carbon dioxide from polluting sources such as coal and gas plants, and then tightly stores it in “containers,” such as geological formations, to preclude it from reaching the atmosphere again. However, these technologies are not practical and probably not feasible on a big scale, according to critics. It is much better to not produce the emissions at all, instead of trying to remove already-released carbon dioxide.

To contact the author of this article, email abe.michelen@ieeeglobalspec.com


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Discussion – 10 comments

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Re: Bill Gates is Ready to Clean Up the Earth: Just Remove the CO2 from the Air!
#1
2018-Feb-08 6:25 PM

And the coal plant down the road provides the energy to do it.

Re: Bill Gates is Ready to Clean Up the Earth: Just Remove the CO2 from the Air!
#2
In reply to #1
2018-Feb-09 6:46 AM

Hush! Don't point out inconvenient facts. ;-)

Re: Bill Gates is Ready to Clean Up the Earth: Just Remove the CO2 from the Air!
#3
In reply to #2
2018-Feb-09 11:29 AM

I prefer trees over that ugly monstrosity.

Re: Bill Gates is Ready to Clean Up the Earth: Just Remove the CO2 from the Air!
#4
In reply to #3
2018-Feb-12 6:26 AM

As do I.

Re: Bill Gates is Ready to Clean Up the Earth: Just Remove the CO2 from the Air!
#9
In reply to #1
2018-Feb-20 12:23 PM

"...allow us to harness cheap, intermittent renewable electricity to drive synthesis of liquid fuels that are compatible with modern infrastructure and engines."

Re: Bill Gates is Ready to Clean Up the Earth: Just Remove the CO2 from the Air!
#10
In reply to #9
2018-Feb-20 12:35 PM

I've never understood what is meant by, "renewable"? Does that mean, use trees? They're renewable, as in, we can always grow more.

Re: Bill Gates is Ready to Clean Up the Earth: Just Remove the CO2 from the Air!
#5
2018-Feb-12 12:58 PM

Theoretically, such a carbon dioxide extracting facility could be well-partnered with coal, gas, etc., producing facilities to the extent that they be limited to extracting no more carbon dioxide than the producing facilities produced...

And the need for one more self-important, money-guzzling, ever-regulating, ever-expanding, bureaucracy, would soon follow...

Re: Bill Gates is Ready to Clean Up the Earth: Just Remove the CO2 from the Air!
#7
In reply to #5
2018-Feb-20 10:03 AM

True, these should be co-located with the major carbon dioxide producers rather than put in some field next to wind turbines. Why wait for the CO2 to mix with the air? The elephant in the room - what is the energy balance? It must take more energy to create the fuel than the fuel will produce.

Articles that highlight stupidity bring out the sarcasm in educated folk and I fell victim to it myself. Father forgive me for grumbling.....

The money for this scam would be better spent on modern batteries (there are numerous design for better batteries out there; nobody has taken the plunge to produce them for fear of another 'better' technology) solar, wind, and new modular nuclear facilities that were designed to make power rather than bomb-grade uranium.

But hey, if this makes somebody feel better about the destruction of the climate to power and cool all the data centers that exist to support social media and pornography sites, why not? Just as long as the taxpayers are forced to pay for this great idea, who should care?

Re: Bill Gates is Ready to Clean Up the Earth: Just Remove the CO2 from the Air!
#8
In reply to #5
2018-Feb-20 10:20 AM

Sounds like a great perpetual motion machine to me:

C + O2 -> CO2 + Energy == Coal burning plant

CO2 + Energy -> C + O2 == Air Cleaning Scam.

Result: No net energy gained.

Re: Bill Gates is Ready to Clean Up the Earth: Just Remove the CO2 from the Air!
#6
2018-Feb-20 9:47 AM

Great. Remove all the CO2 so more plant life will die.

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