Article originally pubished on March 15th, 2023.
The development of large-scale direct air capture is reaching a milestone with two prominent companies in the sector teaming up to apply for the US Department of Energy funding opportunities.
Climeworks and California’s direct air capture company Heirloom, have come together with independent non-profit firm Battelle to apply for a $500 million US grant to commercialize their carbon removal technology, reports Reuters on March 15th.
Back in May 2022, the Biden administration launched a $3.5 billion program to develop four direct air capture regional hubs that will capture and sequester CO2 emissions from the air. The goal of the government investment is to kickstart the commercialization of this technology.
The period of the availability of the Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs program is 4 years from fiscal years 2022 through 2026 and will be allocating $700 million annually. One of the conditions for eligibility is that the hub would need to have the capacity to capture and sequester at least 1,000,000 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually from a single unit or multiple interconnected units.
The Letters of Intent from applicants had to be submitted by February 17, 2023 and full applications – by March 13, 2023.
According to Battelle’s energy and resilience manager, Shawn Bennett, the unprecedented federal investment, private sector activity and endorsement by scientists of the need for carbon removal are a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to deploy the technology.
Climeworks currently operates the largest functioning DAC facility, located in Iceland, which is capturing and storing around 4,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide. The company’s second plant Mammoth is currently under construction and will also be located in Iceland.
It is expected to eliminate 36,000 tons of CO2 per year and should become operational in 18-24 months counting from the announcement date (June 2022).
Heirloom operates America’s only running DAC facility. The company’s technology involves using limestone and its natural ability to suck CO2 like a sponge from the atmosphere. The company accelerates this natural process, reducing the time it takes to absorb CO2 from years to just 3 days. It then breaks down the limestone into calcium oxide rock and CO2 gas using heat from a renewable-energy-powered electric kiln.
The company’s partners then permanently and safely sequester this CO2 in deep geological reservoirs, or in long-lasting materials like concrete.
Climeworks and Heirloom are developing essential carbon removal technologies that offer solutions for permanent, reliable and durable sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions. As direct air capture companies are coming together to develop hubs and infrastructure for large-scale deployment of the solution, the world is simultaneously coming one step closer to tackling the climate change crisis.