The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced April 14th, a new $14 million investment for five front-end engineering design (FEED) studies that will connect existing zero or low-carbon energy supply to direct air capture (DAC) projects combined with reliable carbon storage.
The direct air capture investment is part of the plan of the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The selected studies will advance the evaluation of direct air capture technology coupled with durable storage as it could play a critical role when combined with aggressive decarbonization to curb the climate crisis.
The DAC projects are coupled with permanent storage and are capable of removing a minimum of 5,000 tons of net CO2 per year. The facilities are co-located with domestic zero or low-carbon thermal energy sourced from geothermal or nuclear power plants and low-grade heat from industrial facilities.
The selected projects to receive the investment are as follows:
- With a DAC system developed by Climeworks, the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois will connect it to thermal energy from the Brawley Geothermal Plant in Brawley, California. The system will separate CO2 from ambient air and is strategically located near a proposed geologic storage site. The award amount is $2,495,197.
- Constellation – electricity and gas supplier, will use a DAC system developed by Carbon Engineering to integrate it with an existing light-water nuclear reactor at its Byron Generating Station in Byron, Illinois. The CO2 will also be transported for permanent geologic storage. The award amount is $2,500,000.
- Battelle Memorial Institute – a research organization, will leverage available thermal energy from Southern Company’s Joseph M. Farley nuclear power plant in Columbia for a DAC system developed by AirCapture LLC. The award amount is $2,499,178.
- The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois will use the direct air capture and CO2 conversion technology by CarbonCapture Inc. and CarbonCure respectively to couple it to CO2 conversion in the US Steel’s Gary Works in Gary, Indiana. It will separate CO2 from ambient air and convert it to concrete products. The award amount is $3,459,554.
- AirCapture will execute its advanced DAC system at Nutrien’s Kennewick Fertilizer Operations facility in Kennewick to separate CO2 from ambient air and convert it to value-added chemicals. The award amount is $2,934,380.
The funding is also a collaborative effort among DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), Office of Nuclear Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency, and the Renewable Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office. The selected projects aim to support FECM’s Carbon dioxide removal and conversion programs and will be managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).
The five direct air capture projects’ investments are a testimony of governments allocating resources to combat climate change. Apart from taking out built-up CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, they are also coupled with permanent storage which is considered one of the most efficient ways of reducing emissions.