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.
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.