New York-based CarbonQuest is providing immediate decarbonization solutions for buildings. The company captures CO2 from buildings before it is emitted, liquifies the CO2, and transports it to local businesses that need carbon for their production processes.
With the technology’s ability to slash total building emissions by 70% or more, CarbonQuest is the most effective, turnkey solution for building owners looking to decarbonize in a short timeframe.
Just recently, the company announced the launch of Deployment of the first-of-its-kind building carbon capture tech in five NYC buildings.
We decided to dive deeper into the company’s operations and spoke to Brian Asparro, Chief Operating Officer at CarbonQuest, to learn more about the ins and outs of building decarbonization.
Tell us the backstory of CarbonQuest’s technology, how did the concept come about?
Our founding team has a strong track record at the intersection of buildings and cleantech; several of our founders successfully created and scaled two battery storage companies. After selling both companies to two different European utilities, we saw an opportunity to further focus on decarbonizing the built environment.
Already several years ago, we saw thousands of cities and corporations starting to set significant carbon reductions targets. At the same time, we also saw that many cities and corporations in the U.S. and around the world were utilizing natural gas for heating, hot water, cooling and power. Emissions from natural gas onsite at buildings currently comprise over 1 billion tons of CO2 across the United States; while there was certainly a desire to reduce those emissions significantly, there wasn’t really a pathway to do so for at least a decade. .
We felt there was an opportunity to reduce emissions quickly and cost effectively. And that is why we formed CarbonQuest in 2019 with a mission to decarbonize buildings and to create a more sustainable world for us all. Specifically, our goal is to provide fast and efficient emissions reductions solutions for buildings, given the tremendous carbon footprint that buildings generate and the lack of viable and cost-effective solutions in the market to enable immediate decarbonization.
How accessible is CarbonQuest’s product and how difficult is the installation process?
CarbonQuest stands out from other building emission solution options because of its ease of installation. Other approaches to building decarbonization, while they may be excellent in theory, are oftentimes impractical. Some are prohibitively expensive (they can cost tens of millions of dollars); others take years to install or won’t successfully decarbonize until the grid is largely powered by renewables.
In contrast, CarbonQuest’s Building Carbon Capture technology solution is cost-effective, modular, and simple to deploy. Once the system is designed for a specific building, the technology is installed within a basement/garage, roof, or outdoor enclosure in just weeks and takes up space equivalent to just a few parking spots. The technology doesn’t require any major disruptions to the operations of the building for tenants or building owners. Wherever there is a building using natural gas onsite through a boiler, cogeneration systems or other systems, building carbon capture can be installed to reduce emissions.
Where is CarbonQuest’s technology currently available? Are there expansion plans in the pipeline, and if so, can you tell us where to next?
CarbonQuest’s technology is currently deployed at 1930 Broadway, a residential high-rise building in New York City. We are also currently in the process of expanding our carbon capture technology into five additional NYC buildings with the expectation to be operational in the next few months.
We have focused primarily on New York to date because of its aggressive goals and legislation aimed at building decarbonization. We see other cities such as Boston, Seattle, and Vancouver as ripe for such technology in the near term.
With the increasing prices of natural gas and the energy crisis looming – is there a risk that demand for CarbonQuest’s product may dwindle?
It’s wonderful that renewable energy prices are becoming cost-competitive with natural gas, but the majority of buildings today in places like New York City, use natural gas for heating and hot water, and transitioning away from natural gas will be a decades-long project. (It is dramatically easier for new buildings to go electric than to retrofit existing ones, rendering the immediate decarbonization of existing buildings difficult.)
As such, our technology is a vital solution to enable existing buildings to reduce their carbon footprint in an immediate time frame. While we would love if there was no need for carbon capture technology, the solution will be critical for the near future.
The push towards decarbonization globally, along with massive federal programs in the U.S. like the Inflation Reduction Act, should only create further demand for decarbonization technologies like our carbon capture solution.
What do you believe the potential for carbon capture for residential buildings is, both in the US and worldwide?
We see massive potential for CarbonQuest’s technology for residential and other buildings – our technology is currently targeting multifamily residential and commercial buildings, universities, hospitals, and data centers, as these buildings can all be outfitted with our carbon capture systems.
In total, CarbonQuest estimates the overall market opportunity for carbon capture focused on reducing emissions of buildings to be 500 million tons of CO2 reduced per year — and there’s even more potential when you look abroad. This is the equivalent to removing 100 million+ cars from the road per year. In New York City alone, the market opportunity calls for 30,000+ buildings that can use this type of technology.
You are also in the business of carbon utilization. Can you tell us a little bit more about your process?
CarbonQuest captures CO₂ from a building’s flue or chimney before it has a chance to escape as a greenhouse gas, liquifies it, and sells the liquified CO₂ (“SustainableCO₂™”) to local companies that utilize it in their manufacturing processes.
Many industries rely on CO₂ in their manufacturing processes, and will buy CO₂ – which is made without accountability for both the emissions generated during production or transportation of the CO₂. We are at the early stage of creating a new market that focuses on using recycled CO₂ from local and verified sources, which will be critical in helping the planet reduce its collective emissions and meet climate goals.
Our current partner, Glenwood Mason, is a concrete manufacturer that injects the CO₂ into concrete blocks to permanently mineralize it. By working with CarbonQuest, the company is now able to use recycled CO₂ from a local source to produce lower embodied carbon building material that goes back into city buildings.
You have stated that Glenwood Mason, the only concrete block manufacturer in New York City, is your partner. Do you have partners/customers in other sectors? What is your addressable market?
CarbonQuest deployed our product into our first building in 2022, and we are selling the majority of the Sustainable CO₂ produced in that building to Glenwood Mason. Partners in other sectors of the carbon utilization space include sustainable aviation fuel companies that displace petroleum switch CO₂ to make new generation jet fuel, concrete and concrete aggregates, commodity chemicals, polymers/plastics, algae, and geological sequestration customers.
The addressable market is massive – 500 million tons of emitted carbon from buildings that we are able to capture with CarbonQuest systems.