The innovative direct air capture startup Sustaera is one of the 15 winners to receive a $1 million milestone prize at the XPRIZE carbon removal competition. The company was selected among 1,133 teams to get to this stage.
“This milestone award will help us develop the engineering design for a 10-ton CO 2 per day demonstration unit by 2024. We thank the XPRIZE team for their support, and we can’t wait to demonstrate our technology to capture 1000+ tons/year for the grand prize”, said Raghubir Gupta, PhD, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Sustaera.
Sustaera’s direct air capture system works with abundantly available natural minerals repurposed as carbon dioxide capture sorbents. This technology differentiates it from other competitors and according to the company, allows it to rapidly scale globally. The direct air capture modules also use existing supply chains and manufacturing infrastructure.
The system is powered by renewable energy. Using renewable power, the sorbent can be regenerated at lower temperatures which significantly reduces the amount of energy required for the capture process. The energy optimization translates into cost reductions as often power requirements represent more than half of the total capture cost.
The company claims it can achieve CO2 capture costs below $100 per ton at scale which is revolutionary for this space.
Another competitive advantage the company outlines is that the systems are engineered to deliver best-in-class carbon capture per acre of land. It uses less land than land-based or natural CO2 capture methods, which is the highlight of the Sustaera DAC 2.0 technology upgrade.
Currently, the startup plans to sell credits in the voluntary market with Stripe as its first customer and is in early discussions with several interested stakeholders.
Sustaera was founded in 2021 and is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, US. It announced in December 2021 that it has closed a $10 million Series A funding round led by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and billionaire investor Jeremy Grantham.
Another milestone for the climate tech startup announced in March 2022 is that Shopify has agreed to purchase 5,000 tons of carbon removal from the company starting in 2024. With this purchase, Shopify became Sustaera’s largest customer to date which would help the company accelerate the deployment of its technology.
Sustaera’s long-term goal is to remove 500 million tons of CO2 cumulatively by 2040. It aims to offer commercial DAC systems starting at a capacity of 10 tons per day that can be multiplied to create facilities capable of capturing thousands of tons of CO2 per day.
The startup envisions direct air capture as having an impactful role in taking away atmospheric carbon dioxide at scale. According to reputable organizations, the world cannot achieve its goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C without extensive carbon removal and direct air capture may just be offering the much-needed technology.