A new direct air capture startup is making energy-efficient and scalable CO2 removal from the atmosphere a reality. Removr is a Norwegian company founded in 2021 that develops a zeolite direct air capture technology catching CO2 directly from the air to combat climate change.
The startup marked a new milestone that would support its industrial-scale pilot. Removr announced on Feb 28th that it has received NOK 36.3 million ($3.51 million) in governmental innovation grant for the development of its first industrial pilot at the TCM Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), Norway, the world’s leading carbon capture technology test center.
The pilot will capture 300 tons of CO2 annually from 2024. It will also be the first-ever direct air capture (DAC) pilot at center. The backing is provided in the form of an innovation grant from the Norwegian governmental body Enova, and is Norway’s first grant to DAC. Enova is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment and supports the development of energy and climate technology.
“Even with maximum efforts to reduce emissions, we have already filled the atmosphere with such large amounts of greenhouse gases that the greenhouse effect will continue to warm the globe even if emissions go to net zero… I admire Removr for their initiative which can play an important role in the development of technology for carbon removal,” said Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Espen Barth Eide.
Removr follows a stepwise plan to industrialize DAC and scale the technology. From 2016 until now, it has built four successful pilots demonstrating proof of concept that could capture 50 tons of CO2 per year.
Now, supported by the grant money, Removr will launch its first industrial pilot at TCM expected to capture 300 tons of CO2 annually from 2024. That milestone will be followed by the company’s first commercial pilot with a capacity of 2,000 tons per year in 2025 and its first large-scale facility with a capacity of 30,000 tons per year in 2027.
A facility with a capacity of capturing 1 million tons per year is expected in 2029 that will also be the world’s first large-scale solid sorbent DAC facility.
Removr DAC Technology
Removr’s zeolite DAC approach is characterized by a cost advantage due to improved energy efficiency. The company’s goal is to reduce electricity consumption by more than 50% compared to current DAC plants. Removr’s plants are based on GreenCap patented technology and are known to be the most environmentally friendly among known DAC technologies.
The secret behind the effectiveness of Removr’s direct air capture approach is that it uses molecular sieves to capture CO2. The sieves are made of microporous zeolites. When the zeolites get saturated with CO2, they are heated, and the CO2 gas is released. It can then be extracted as a separate CO2 stream.
This technology has been used for decades in the space industry. Removr’s team sees several advantages to it:
- Less energy is required to separate the captured CO2 from the zeolites
- No water is used in the capture phase and a low amount of water is needed in the overall process
- Zeolites are non-hazardous and non-toxic
- Zeolites have been in use for decades in a range of industries from oil & gas to water softeners
“At Removr, our goal is the industrialization of DAC. We believe that to realize the promise of Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage, we need to deploy as fast and as safely and responsibly possible,” shared Alex Bell, Chief Growth Officer at Removr.
“The Removr founding team has deep experience of large industrial projects from the oil and gas industry, such as LNG terminals. A lot of that experience is exactly the type of know-how needed to make DACCS work at scale. Norway provides a fantastic starting point for DACCS: extensive energy and carbon management expertise, a leading carbon storage infrastructure being built up, a power grid that is already very renewable heavy and with the possibility of further renewable build out,” added Mr. Bell.
Currently, the company works with a number of partners, including SINTEF, Metier, DNV, Citec and Carbfix on its next facilities while developing a concept for its world’s first million-ton DAC facility based on solid sorbent. Enova envisions that Removr could become a central and preferred technology partner for streams with low CO2 concentrations, both for direct air capture from ambient air and for processing CO2 from aluminum works for example.