Holocene Unveiled Its First Direct Air Capture Pilot At Demonstration Event

Holocene Unveiled Its First Direct Air Capture Pilot At Demonstration Event - Carbon Herald
Holocene cuts the ribbon on its Pilot direct air capture facility alongside the team and community leaders. Credit: Holocene

Holocene – a direct air capture startup developing an innovative carbon removal system, unveiled officially on Wednesday, May 8th, its first direct air capture pilot at a ribbon cutting and public technology demonstration event. 

The event gathered industry professionals to hear from leaders like Randy Boyd (President, University of Tennessee) and Holocene co-founder and CEO Anca Timofte who shared her entrepreneurial story. It included real life carbon removal demonstration that showed how direct air capture works. It was led by Holocene co-founder and CTO Tobias Rueesch who helped the crowd grasp the technology and the broader mission of the company. 

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“Yep, you heard it right – we didn’t just cut the ribbon… we showed nearly 100 local community leaders what direct air capture looks like in real life,” shared the company in a blog post

The pilot facility is capable of removing ~10 tonnes of CO2 per year. Even though the scale is relatively small, according to Holocene it is at the right level to show its fully integrated, automated pilot operating in environmentally relevant conditions. Its goal is also to prove the team’s ability to turn a beaker-scale technology investigation to an industrial scale plant. The pilot is actually a 100,000x scale-up that was achieved in just under 12 months.

“Countless hours, tireless work, and endless ingenuity brought an idea into reality. And we did it with full transparency – even showing live data and operations to the world,” shared Holocene. 

The efficiency of removal is at ~80% capture rate – from the ~450 parts per million CO2 going in the system, less than 90 parts per million CO2 is going out. The pilot air-liquid contactor uses a novel and proprietary chemistry to enable continuous, low-temperature, efficient designs.

Holocene’s technology works as the CO2 air stream is passed through a man-made waterfall with an amino acid added to the water. The CO2 bounds within the water solution. A second, water-based solution containing a guanidine is then added to the liquid CO2. 

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The guanidine and the CO2 from the amino acid form a solid “crystal” mass and thus the CO2 is turned into a solid form. After the solids are separated, a low-temperature heat from renewable sources is applied to separate the CO2 from the solid. Then it can be collected in purified, gaseous form. More about Holocene’s technical approach can be found here.

“… the four key factors of our approach, specifically: (1) our continuous process (2) low temperature (3) direct & efficient regeneration, and (4) largely thermochemical energy inputs — are the four attributes required to have a shot at approaching the $100/tonne-CO2 ambition the world has set,” commented Holocene.

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