Carbon capture has been attracting more and more interest from investors and governments lately, as concerns over climate change become stronger. The technology has been around for decades but it hasn’t been able to deliver on its promise. Now, a new breed of carbon capture companies is emerging. They hope to bridge the gap between the ongoing energy transition and the world’s reliance on hard-to-abate industries like oil and gas.
- How Carbon Capture Companies Can Help The World Manage Emissions?
- Economics And Main Goals
- 1. Aker Carbon Capture
- 2. Calix Limited
- 3. Carbon America
- 4. Carbon Clean
- 5. CarbonFree
- 6. Carbon8 Systems
- 7. Chart Industries
- 8. Capsol Technologies AS
- 9. NET Power
- 10. Svante
In this article, we’ve picked ten of the leading point-source carbon capture companies. Point-source carbon capture is referred to capturing the emissions straight from the source like industrial smokestacks. Carbon capture and storage installations can be applied across any industrial facility from hard to abate sectors like cement, steel, fertilizers, power generation, natural gas processing, petrochemical facilities, hydrogen production, etc.
Point-source carbon capture and storage does not deal with historic emissions but is used as an emission reduction approach, preventing ongoing emissions from industrial facilities to enter the atmosphere. The diversion of carbon capture technologies that eliminate the historic emissions in the air is called direct air capture. We have a separate list that gathers the top direct air capture companies in the world.
There are now dozens of companies in the emerging carbon industry and you’ll be able to follow their development on Carbon Herald. Whether it’s industrial point-source carbon capture, direct air capture, enhanced weathering, carbon farming, or using biomass and the oceans, you’ll find them here.
Why Do We Need Technologies That Remove Carbon?
As the majority of scientists around the world now agree, it is indisputable that the planet has been warming at a constant pace since the Industrial Revolution. According to data from the World Meteorological Organization, the average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 °C above pre-industrial (1850-1900) levels. 2021 is also the seventh consecutive year (2015-2021) where the global atmospheric temperature has been over 1°C compared to the 1850s levels.
Another fact among scientists is that the measured warming of the planet is caused by the human population. In total, people have emitted around 2,500 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere since 1850. Thanks to the greenhouse effect, those unnatural high levels of emissions are trapping heat that is warming the planet and interfering with its atmospheric balance.
According to the Paris Agreement, human’s goal this century is to limit global warming below 1.5 °C of heating. As data shows, the remaining carbon we are allowed to emit to stay below that limit is less than 400 gigatons.
What Do We Need To Do To Tackle Emissions?
Currently, the annual global carbon footprint is around 50 billion tons of CO2 equivalent emissions which means we have 8 years left until we spend our carbon budget if today’s levels of releasing emissions are kept. The solution to this problem is starting immediately with emissions reduction at a gradual pace and taking out the historically built-up CO2 from the atmosphere.
According to estimates from the National Academy of Sciences, to meet the Paris Agreement goal, the world would have to take out 1300 gigatons of CO2 by the end of the century. 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide will have to be removed globally each year through 2050, with 20 gigatons of CO2 removed annually from 2050 to 2100.
Since the world is still reliant on fossil fuels and there is a major political push from oil-producing countries around the world to keep them, the phasing out, unfortunately, will likely continue to happen slower than the pace needed to stay below the 1.5°C degrees of warming limit. An acceleration of clean energy adoption though is expected during the decade before 2050.
How Carbon Capture Companies Can Help The World Manage Emissions?
Keeping all that in mind, the economy generating no emissions still seems far off in the future. A technology called carbon capture is being touted as a way to get us into the future faster. Point-source carbon capture represents capturing CO2 before it enters the atmosphere, transporting it, and storing it underground safely for centuries or millennia.
The carbon capture’s goal is to prevent the release of CO2 from heavy industries like power plants, chemical plants, or cement kilns. Direct air capture – the technology handling historic emissions, is vacuuming carbon directly from the atmosphere. Even though it is a very nascent sector, it has been enjoying major investors’ interest that have been piling money into it.
Carbon capture has been around since the 1920s when CO2 sometimes found in natural gas reservoirs was separated from the saleable methane gas. In the 1970s the idea was born to use captured CO2 from the point of source to be piped in oil fields to boost oil production – a process known as enhanced oil recovery.
In 1997, the world’s first offshore carbon capture facility that permanently stored emissions underground was commissioned. It is called the Sleipner CCS plant owned by Equinor and located in Norway. The facility is also the longest in operation in the world. Since then more and more projects for permanent storage have appeared, even though the majority (more than 90%) of all carbon capture initiatives being built are used for enhanced oil recovery.
The carbon capture companies focused on true decarbonization and permanent CO2 removal and storage could transform the industry as we know it today. As they develop viable business models apart from using the technology for enhanced oil recovery, the industry could start supporting more projects dedicated to permanent storage.
Economics And Main Goals
The reason for using carbon capture for EOR is economics – it is still a very expensive technology and utilizing it to boost oil production generates a revenue stream that provides a rationale for the investment. As Equinor recently announced, the waves are turning. The oil and gas major predicted that the carbon capture technology would break even by 2031.
Currently, the cost of capturing carbon is larger than the cost of emitting carbon. However, the EU Carbon Permit hit a record price in Feb 2023 of 105 euros ($112) per ton of CO2 while according to EIA, capturing carbon costs $15-25 per ton of CO2 for industrial processes like ethanol production or natural gas processing or $40-120 per ton of CO2 for processes with dilute gas streams like cement production and power generation.
The cost of transport and storage can also vary greatly on a case-by-case basis, depending on CO2 volumes, transport distances, and storage conditions. The statistics show that the gap between the cost of carbon captured and emitted is closing much faster than previously thought.
Furthermore, as it is improving and scaling up, in 2021 the total capacity of the CCS project pipeline increased for the fourth year in a row, by almost one-third over 2021 alone. According to the latest statistics from the Global CCS Institute, there are 194 commercial CCS facilities in the project pipeline (30 of them fully operational) as of Sept 2022, from a diverse range of sectors including cement, steel, hydrogen, power generation, and direct air capture. Тhe main goal of these projects remains reducing emissions released during the operation of the facility and tackling historically built emissions.
Industry experts also agree that the carbon capture technology cannot be used on its own to achieve decarbonization of the world, but rather it will complement clean energy techs like renewables and hydrogen. It could play a key role in cutting the emissions of heavy industries like fossil fuel power generation until green energy alternatives leap barriers like achieving the reliability of fossil fuel on-demand energy production and becoming widely available to take over the grid.
Some of the largest most popular carbon capture companies driving the large-scale adoption of the technology are mentioned below. These point-source carbon capture companies also own the best technology out there used to reduce emissions from the source. Some of them are pioneers in the carbon capture space, others are innovating technologies that are expected to accelerate their large-scale adoption.
Aker Carbon Capture
Aker Carbon Capture is one of the few and largest publicly traded pure-play carbon capture companies. It is headquartered in Norway with representation in several Northern European countries and a global reach through the Aker group. Aker Carbon Capture ACC was listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange in August 2020.
In March 2021, shares of Aker Carbon Capture ASA (OTCQX:AKCCF) became traded as part of a regulated electronic over-the-counter service offered by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) in the US. The company is currently mid-cap with a market capitalization of $660 million.
Even though the carbon capture unit of Aker is newly found, the technology is mature and carries 20 years of Aker Solutions’ carbon capture experience, experts, and project references. 55% of the company is owned by Aker Horizons, a “planet-positive” investment company and part of the multinational Aker Group.
The unit of Aker Group – Aker Solutions, is a leading engineering, procurement and construction company and has been a player in the carbon capture space for decades now. Since the 1990s, it has pioneered engineering projects in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and possesses a strong experience across the carbon value chain – from front end to engineering, construction, installation and maintenance.
It has a long list of contracts including the carbon capture facility at Norcem’s cement plant in Brevik, Norway, the installation of the Just Catch™ modular carbon capture plant at Twence’s waste-to-energy plant in the Netherlands, and the flagship Northern Lights carbon capture and storage initiative. Apart from providing carbon capture installations for small and large facilities (for up to 400,000 tons per year of CO2 emissions capacity and above), the company also offers Carbon Capture as a Service.
That involves the customer paying per ton of CO2 captured and the installation is financed by project finance investors, including Aker Horizons. The business offers a high value to customers. The Aker carbon capture stock is also considered a pure-play one-way bet on the carbon capture industry’s growth.
Calix Limited (ASX: CXL) is an Australian technology company helping to solve global problems. It was founded in 2005 and offers a variety of sustainable products in industries including advanced battery, agriculture, wastewater management, and carbon capture.
The company entered the carbon capture market in 2014 with a reactor used to directly separate CO2 from magnesium minerals. The same technology is used to capture the CO2 produced by the cement and lime manufacturing processes. When minerals like limestone are grinded in Calix’s calciner, the CO2 that is 50% of the mass of the limestone gets released. The technology can separate the CO2 directly for no additional energy penalty.
In 2015, Calix formed a European-Australian consortium with key partners like Heidelberg Materials, CEMEX, Lhoist, Port of Rotterdam, Engie and others called LEILAC projects – to apply and demonstrate its breakthrough carbon capture technology. LEILAC is 93% owned by Calix.
Supported by €12 million ($12.8 million) in funding from the European Union’s (EU) Horizon 2020 program, LEILAC opened its pilot plant at Heidelberg Materials’ cement facility in Lixhe, Belgium. The project successfully demonstrated separation of CO2 emissions with no additional chemicals or processes from regular cement production.
LEILAC-2 is the second project retrofitted into the Heidelberg Materials plant in Germany with a targeted CO2 capture capacity of 100,000 tpa. It has a retrofittable modular design developed to scale carbon capture for any plant, with potential to operate on a variety of energy sources.
Founded in 2019, Carbon America is a vertically integrated developer of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects, taking care of the full CCS value chain – from development to financing, engineering and execution. The company can provide up to 100% of project equity, structure and financing.
According to its presentation, Carbon America has assembled a team of world-class experts in all aspects of CCS including capture processes, geology, reservoir engineering, project development and management, finance and tax equity structuring, regulatory and advocacy engagement, and acquisition of necessary land and sequestration site management for CO2 storage.
Its mission is to scale the deployment of carbon capture and storage and help the biggest emitters in North America reduce their carbon footprint.
To date, the company has announced two agreements to develop carbon capture and storage projects at ethanol plants that will eliminate the emissions during the fermentation process. The first agreement is for the Yuma Ethanol and Sterling Ethanol plants and the second project is the CCS at the Bridgeport Ethanol Plant.
Carbon Clean is a London-based company, founded in 2009 with offices in India, Spain, and the US. The company is offering carbon capture installations for industrial emitters that aim to serve facilities of varying sizes. In 2021, the company launched CycloneCC – a breakthrough combination of two proven technologies – Carbon Clean’s advanced, amine-promoted buffer salt solvent (APBS-CDRMax®) and rotating packed beds (RPBs).
According to the company, CycloneCC is more efficient than conventional carbon capture methods. The process is able to achieve 90%+ capture rates and will be available in standardized capacities from 10 to 300 tons of CO2 per day.
The CycloneCC unit can also be delivered ready to install and become fully operational in less than eight weeks. It addresses two of the technology’s largest obstacles – space and cost which is why it is considered revolutionary. As a modular, prefabricated and skid-mounted carbon capture solution, CycloneCC reduces the overall cost of carbon capture by up to 50% and has a physical footprint that is up to 50% smaller than conventional carbon capture units.
Carbon Clean also provides CDRMax semi-modular carbon capture systems. So far, the CDRMax semi-modular technology has been installed on the blast furnace of a Tata Steel plant in India and captures 5 tons of CO2 per day (tpd). It is also implemented to take the emissions from the flue gas of a rotary kiln at a Taiheiyo Cement Corporation plant in Japan, capturing 10 tpd.
In 2022, Carbon Clean completed its Series C funding round at $150 million. The investment will be used to ramp up new contracts and partnerships to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture and help industrial facilities reduce their heavy carbon footprint.
CarbonFree is one of the carbon capture companies with an ambitious mission, to capture 10% of industrial CO2, currently standing at 800 million tons per year. The company’s offering is called SkyCycle and provides a complete carbon capture utilization and storage solution. The technology captures the CO2 emitted by industrial plants and mineralizes it to create valuable low-carbon materials.
The company also uses another process called SkyMine® that has been capturing carbon and converting it to baking soda at an industrial cement plant in Texas. The facility has been operating since 2015 and is the world’s first and largest industrial-scale carbon mineralization plant. The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) the company produces is also available for purchase on Amazon.
The company announced in Feb 2023 it partnered with bp to work together on developing carbon capture and utilization projects with SkyCycleTM technology. In an interview for Carbon Herald, CEO of CarbonFree Martin Keighley also shared that the company runs its business profitably as of today which is somehow unique in the industry.
Carbon8 Systems (C8S) is a UK-based company founded in 2006 as a spin-out from the University of Greenwich and provides a circular solution to the construction industry thanks to its carbon capture and utilization approach. Its system inherently reduces the carbon footprint of any construction project.
The process involves capturing carbon dioxide at the source and storing it inside industrial waste so that it can turn it into materials for reuse for the construction industry or for cheaper disposal. As industrial residues from hard-to-abate sectors are reactive to CO2, they can be used as carbon sinks.
The company’s CCUS technology is called Accelerated Carbonation Technology (ACT) and has been developed since the 1990s.
The award-winning for innovation and patented technology is housed inside a container branded as CO₂ntainer – a mobile carbon capture system able to treat up to 12,000 metric tons of residues annually in the process. The carbonated product that the system produces is a carbon-negative aggregate used in cement blocks, road fillers, and green roofing substrates.
In 2022, Carbon8 partnered with FLSmidth – a company providing sustainable services to the mining and cement industries. FLSmidth will use its global network to extend the reach of C8S’ carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) solution. Last year, the UK-based company also signed an agreement with Return Carbon – a Dutch investment platform, to expand Carbon8’s technology in the Belgian and Dutch markets.
Chart Industries, Inc. is a publicly traded company (NYSE: GTLS) with over 25 global locations, manufacturing highly engineered equipment servicing multiple applications in the energy and industrial gas markets. Its equipment serves every phase of the liquid gas supply chain, and other gases like hydrogen, biogas, oxygen, helium, carbon dioxide, etc.
In 2021, Chart Industries completed the acquisition of Earthly Labs – a provider of small-scale carbon capture systems offering an affordable, small-footprint technology platform called “CiCi ®” to capture, recycle, reuse, track and sell CO2.
Earthly Labs’ offering to customers included cryogenic CO2 storage tanks, vaporizers, and regulators. With this move, Chart expanded its ESG solutions to include carbon capture. Chart’s Cryogenic Carbon Capture™ (CCC) technology is post-combustion and is used to reduce emissions from facilities like fossil energy power stations, cement, pulp and paper, iron and steel and certain chemical production plants.
According to the company, the cryogenic carbon capture system reduces carbon emissions by 95 to 99% with half the cost and energy of competing processes and eliminates harmful SOx, NOx and mercury pollutants from flue gases.
The company has been ramping up partnerships to expand its technology with companies like Wolf Midstream, Maine Beer Company, Raven SR, Wolf Carbon Solutions, Koch Engineered Solutions, and FuelCell Energy. In 2022, it signed an agreement with CarbonCure Technologies, Inc. to advance collaboration on equipment for the storage and transport of liquid CO2.
With this agreement, CarbonCure – a carbon utilization company in the concrete industry, will be able to use Chart’s cryogenic CO2 microbulk storage tanks and cryogenic trailers for the transport of liquid CO2 to support its operations.
Capsol Technologies AS
Capsol Technologies AS is a carbon capture technology company founded in 2014 with the goal of becoming a global leader in capturing CO2 from Waste-to-Energy (WtE), cement, biomass, power plants and industrial facilities. The main patented technology of the company is CapsolEoP™ (End of Pipe) solution. It utilizes a proven solvent Hot Potassium Carbonate (HPC) that is inexpensive and non-toxic.
The technology is also cost-competitive due to its patented energy recirculation which significantly reduces energy loss in the CO2 capture process. It is also scalable as a single unit CapsolEoP™ can process flue gas from plants with emissions of up to 2.5 million tons per year. The full cycle costs (opex and capex) come down to $30-$37 per ton of CO2 which according to the company is cheaper than traditional technologies in the range of $43-$70 per ton.
It is also one of the carbon capture companies growing a long list of contracts and partnerships, the latest one including a rental and service contract with an undisclosed German energy company to deliver a liquefaction unit that can be used with the CapsolGo® carbon capture demonstration unit.
NET Power LLC is one of the most innovative technology companies out there, providing a real solution to powering the global economy with clean energy. The company has developed natural gas power plants and captures all the CO2 generated through the process of electricity production through a crucial innovation.
NET Power technology works as it combusts natural gas with pure oxygen in a combustor, producing CO2 and water. The CO2 is circled back in a closed loop and used to spin a turboexpander, producing power. A small portion of the CO2 is captured while most of it is compressed and recirculated back to the turboexpander. The captured high-purity CO2 can be sequestered or sold to the industry.
NET Power’s novel approaches in its power generation system are based on the Allam Cycle, named for its lead inventor, English engineer Rodney Allam. In 2022, NET Power announced an agreement with Rice Acquisition Corp. II to go public on the NYSE under the NPWR ticker.
It also announced recently an intent to establish a joint venture with SK Group to develop utility-scale natural gas plants across Asian markets, deploying NET Power’s technology. SK Group will invest $50 million in NET Power’s and RONI’s proposed business combination which totals expected investments in the company to $895 million.
NET Power is believed to be one of the few technologies in the world to be producing truly clean and reliable on demand electricity. Its mission is to globally deliver the “Energy Trifecta” which means clean, reliable, and low-cost energy.
The technology’s life cycle emissions are 90% below today’s combined cycle natural gas systems and in line with renewables coupled with batteries. The levelized cost of energy is below both combined cycle gas turbines with carbon capture and renewables coupled with batteries.
Svante is a company founded in 2007, focused on providing the best possible solution for industrial emitters and unlocking a mass market for bulk carbon dioxide capture installations. The company claims it is using a second-generation carbon capture technology at half the cost of solvent-based systems.
It is participating in the CO2 recycling market by stimulating new ways to create products and processes that recycle and sequester carbon dioxide. What makes Svante’s carbon capture technology stand out is its capability to capture the CO2 from flue gas, concentrate it, then release it for storage or industrial use in 60 seconds. That is compared to hours with traditional technologies.
The company is using tailor-made nano-materials – solid adsorbents, with very high storage capacity for CO2, engineered to catch and release CO2 in less than 60 seconds. As a result, Svante needs a much smaller inventory of adsorbents relative to other technologies using a liquid solvent.
The company has also estimated a single capture unit taking out 1 million tons of CO2 a year would cost $2 trillion for 10,000 of such units. They would allow Svante’s industrial customers to capture and sequester or utilize 10 gigatons of emissions per year which suits ideally global net zero targets.
The world is faced with one of the biggest challenges it has ever had – the need to urgently remove around 1300 gigatons of historically built emissions in the atmosphere and transition to a net zero economy. Replacing fossil fuel energy generation with renewables plus energy storage and hydrogen seems like the ideal solution, however, it will take decades for the infrastructure and power capacities to be made available worldwide. While the world is transitioning towards clean energies, point-source carbon capture technologies could ease the process and take a toll on reducing the flow of current emissions.
Other carbon capture companies worth mentioning are LanzaTech, Aqualung and C-Capture. LanzaTech is a carbon recycling technology company that became the first public carbon capture utilization and storage company in the US back in Feb 2023.
Aqualung is commercializing a patented membrane carbon capture technology worldwide and C-Capture develops a technology that can be deployed on most processes requiring CO2 separation from other gases. These 13 carbon capture companies could definitely speed up the race towards decarbonization and unlock the potential of carbon capture, storage, and utilization.