New Direct Air Capture Startup AirMyne Overcomes Energy Barriers To Scaling DAC

New Direct Air Capture Startup AirMyne Overcomes Energy Barriers To Scaling DAC - Carbon Herald

A new direct air capture startup is saying hello to the world as it officially reveals its unique DAC technology. The California-based startup AirMyne has been launched in May 2022 out of Y Combinator, developing a direct air capture method that uses a liquid sorbent that can be regenerated using low-temperature geothermal energy. 

AirMyne’s founders Sudip Mukhopadhyay and Mark Cyffka bring a combined 40+ years of experience in inventing, commercializing, and scaling up solutions in the chemicals industry.

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The company’s approach is overcoming one barrier towards scaling the technology which is high temperature requirements that can’t always be find cheap and easy. Powering the process primarily by low-temperature heat means it can flexibly tap into any source of low-carbon energy like waste heat, geothermal or electricity.

The overall process could prove to be less efficient than a high-temperature approach, but according to co-founder and COO Mark Cyffka, it improves the company’s options to grow and scale.

“It’s flexible. When you’re at that pilot stage and you’re trying to make your first pilot, now you can use low-temperature heat from electricity, you can use it from industrial waste heat, you can use it from geothermal,” said Mr Cyffka for TechCrunch.

With “building DAC at scale mindset”, the company’s technology works in a two-steps process, reducing costs and complexity for future DAC plants. In the first step, fans pull air into a mechanical structure called a contactor, where it mixes with a proprietary AirMyne capture chemistry. There, the liquid chemistry binds with the CO2 from the air. 

In the second step, the CO2-rich chemistry is pumped to a stripping column, where low-pressure steam is used to release a high-purity CO2 gas stream that can be passed to utilization or sequestration partners. 

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According to the announcement, the company has selected a liquid chemistry rather than solid sorbents as at industrial scale, liquids are easier to move and handle compared to solids. The chemical inputs chosen in the process are also benign, low-cost, and can be procured anywhere in the world. 

AirMyne is currently working with Fervo Energy – a company pioneering a new approach to next-generation geothermal, delivering 24/7 carbon-free energy. It is exploring integrating its direct air capture system with Fervo’s advanced geothermal project in Utah. The company has also sent samples of captured CO2 to CarbonBuilt – a low-carbon concrete company, and Rubi Laboratories, making textiles out of CO2.

AirMyne also announced it has raised $6.9M in Seed funding since its launch in 2022, backed by Alumni Ventures, Liquid 2 Ventures, Impact Science Ventures, Another Brain, EMLES, Soma Capital, Wayfinder, and others (including stellar angel investors like Justin Hamilton). The investment has allowed it to build a 20-people team of engineers and scientists, business development, deployment, and operations professionals. 

Some highlights achieved by the company so far include:

  • Reaching over a kilogram scale capture per day and reducing the energy requirement by over 100x
  • Covering the process under 3 fully granted patents;
  • Working with a sequestration partner (Class VI permit applications submitted) in the San Joaquin Delta region, close to its Berkeley HQ;
  • Delivering canisters of CO2 to utilization companies CarbonBuilt & Rubi Laboratories;
  • Winning selection in 2 Department of Energy DAC Hubs, including Fervo’s Red Rocks hub & the CALDAC hub in San Joaquin Valley.

What is next ahead for the company is further optimizing its cost and energy requirements. It is also planning to showcase its “pilot 1” which will aim to prove how the system works under field conditions, while continuing to iterate on the core technology.

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