Carbon Negative Fuel is Startup Dream

October 21, 2018

Daily Hive:

A startup based in Squamish and funded by international investors has created revolutionary new technology has the potential to combat climate change if it could be implemented on a larger scale.

As well, it could also potentially alter the global political landscape and our entire paradigm of the effects of fossil fuels and pollution.

Carbon Engineering (CE) uses banks of fans to capture air as part of a process to capture carbon dioxide. When altered through chemical reactions with limestone, hydrogen, and air, the process creates an end product of new synthetic fuels such as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel.

And new research released this week shows that the process carries a relatively low cost – far lower than initial estimates of USD$600 per ton to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

With new data and engineering to support its findings, it believes it can achieve the same for between USD$94 and USD$232 per ton. The resulting fuel could be made at a relatively low cost of just USD$1 per litre.

“CE’s vision is to reduce the effects of climate change by first cutting emissions, then by reducing atmospheric CO₂,” said Steve Oldham, CEO of CE, in a statement.

“Our clean fuel is fully compatible with existing engines, so it provides the transportation sector with a solution for significantly reducing emissions, either through blending or direct use. Our technology is scalable, flexible, and demonstrated. Today, we’re actively seeking partners who will work with CE to dramatically reduce emissions in the transportation sector and help us move to a carbon-neutral economy.”

The project was the brain-child of David Keith, a Harvard professor and founder of CE. The latest findings are based on three years of research from CE’s pilot plant located on a 1.2-acre industrial site on the future site of the Oceanfront development on Squamish’s central waterfront.

The plant has been operational since 2015, and it began converting its captured carbon dioxide into fuels late last year. However, the plant is not a complete small-scale version of a commercial plant.

“Direct air capture technology offers a highly-scalable pathway to removing carbon from the atmosphere,” said Noah Deich, the executive director of the Center for Carbon Removal. “This analysis demonstrates the potential for Carbon Engineering’s technology to fall to a cost that would drive significant investment and corporate adoption in the near future.”

Carbon Engineering


11 Responses to “Carbon Negative Fuel is Startup Dream”

  1. Alan Roth Says:

    This sounds wrong to me. It’s producing new fossil-based fuels that will add that CO2 right back into the environment. At almost $4 per gallon at the source, that fuel will be hugely expensive.

    I’m familiar with a patented technology that has the potential to produce electricity for $0.25 per megawatt hour with no carbon footprint. The cost for a 3,000 MW plant will be around $1 billion which is dirt cheap. It will be ten years to get the first fully functioning plant up and operating.

    I’m also familiar with another patented product that can be placed on tall smokestacks and will cause the CO2 to disassociate into carbon and oxygen. It will be a few years before any serious production can begin.

    These are still in the future and they have to be considered questionable until they are actually operating at scale, but they provide hope.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      It sounds wrong because it looks like it’s just another “if-maybe-we could-some day-if-if-if….” competitor for Solar Roadway.

      I too was struck by the fact that it pulls CO2 out of the air and turns it into fuel that is then burned and puts the CO2 right back into the air. And all this high tech mumbo-jumbo somehow turns out to be “carbon-neutral”? And maybe-if-someday-we could-if-if-maybe use this technology to pull CO2 out of the air and and hide it somewhere? Uh-Huh! Yep! Move over, Solar Roadway! Anyone who sees real “hope” in any of these “startup dreams” is just whistling past the graveyard.

    • ubrew12 Says:

      The major promise here is the promise of turning existing vehicles into renewable vehicles. Especially for jet aircraft, that’s a huge advantage, given the challenges ahead. Passenger vehicles may well be cheaper to just go electric, however. The main interest is that certain vehicles really rely on the power available through gas-powered technologies. Turning those into renewable vehicles is a win-win, imho. The gas also because the renewable energy power systems ‘battery’. For example, locate a large plant of this type in the Sahara desert, where it turns abundantly available solar energy and atmospheric CO2 into gasoline. The fact that the Sun is gone half the day makes no difference: its energy is stored in the gasoline.

  2. grindupbaker Says:

    Well I’m doing this instead because they collared Neil De Grasse Tyson.

    Super-massive filler video to get to a point that they’ll not tell us because they need the patent first. So it’s solid “material X” so we haven’t a clue of its cost. Air travel is ~6% (just from memory) so that’s 2,100,000,000 tonnes / year will be taken from the air by material X. I’ll assume the weight of the waste product solid “material Y” is 2x the weight of the CO2 it absorbed because they won’t tell us. So this magic process in the video just needs 2,100,000,000 tonnes / year of material X to be mined/manufactured and transported (ships, trains, trucks) to the processors and 4,200,000,000 tonnes / year of waste product solid material Y to be transported (ships, trains, trucks) to the dumping sites. That’s each and every year for however many years humans choose to use aircraft and rockets. It serves no purpose other than aircraft and rockets, or simply scale those weights I gave up by 17x as much to also remove all CO2 humans make, or scale those weights I gave up by 20x as much to also remove old CO2 over the next 100 years to get back to year 1990 AD climate. So that’s just 42,000,000,000 tonnes / year of mined/manufactured useful material X plus 84,000,000,000 tonnes / year of waste product solid material Y to be transported (ships, trains, trucks) to the dumping sites. World concrete production is 10,000,000,000 tonnes / year so the “basic package” (aircraft and rockets only) is 60% of the concrete industry so it’s doable, the “gold package” (offset all coal/oil/gas & therefore keep burning baby burn) is 7 times as big as the concrete industry so it’s getting a tad unwieldy with those secret material Y waste product trucks rolling through your town (7x all the construction sites you’ve ever seen) and the “platinum package” (burn baby burn full offset plus get it back to 350 ppmv CO2) will be 8 times as big as the concrete industry on the 100-year-struggle-to-success payment plan.

    I assumed throughout that it’s a mildly exothermic or neutral reaction (we don’t know because it’s all secret because this is all about making wealth for these people). If it turns out to be severely endothermic and thus can produce carbon & oxygen & material X from waste product solid material Y, then scrap the entire previous paragraph about shipping the massive mass and instead simply provide an additional 3,000,000 of the 2.5 megawatt wind turbines (assuming 50% reaction efficiency) for aircraft and rockets in addition to the 22,000,000 quantity of the 2.5 megawatt wind turbines you’ll need for all energy except aircraft and rockets, and it’s Bob’s Your Uncle job;’s done. Sounds cheap enough, right. So it’s your choice of customized product.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      WOW! An impressive display of massaging the numbers. My head hurt after reading the post and viewing the video clips, and now it’s about to explode.

      I think I’ll just “do a Joe Six Pack” by hanging on to my Solar Roadway stock and hoping for the best.

  3. redskylite Says:

    The retrieving emitted CO2 from the air from banks of fans part sounds hopeful, (although the reusing as fuel sounds somewhat dubious) but I wonder how many banks we need to make an impression on those vital ESRL samplings and how does it compare to nature’s own filters (such as trees). The way some people moan at the banks of elegant turbines how will the CO2 sucking fans be greeted, by the NIMBY brigade. ?

    We better hope that this type of promising technology advances quickly, else rougher and chancier types of geoengineering loom ahead.

    “One thing that would help is if we had more technologies that can actually either stop carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere, or technologies that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

    My recent story — Fuel From Thin Air — highlights efforts to do the latter. These efforts are mostly at an experimental stage.

    Recycling Carbon Dioxide

    But some companies are using carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere.”

  4. lracine Says:

    “This process uses renewable electricity to generate hydrogen from water, and then combines it with CO₂ captured from the atmosphere to produce hydrocarbon fuels such as diesel, gasoline, and Jet-A. It gives us a way to produce global scale quantities of clean fuels that are compatible with today’s transportation infrastructure and engines, but add little or no fossil carbon emissions to the atmosphere.”

    “Summary of DAC

    DAC enables the direct extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere, which cannot be accomplished by CCS. This enables revenue streams and associated business models that are distinct from those available to CCS. These revenue streams
    can be much larger per ton of CO2 from the atmosphere than the revenue streams available per ton of CO2 avoided in the electric sector. DAC is harder and more expensive than capture from power plants. Likewise cutting carbon in the transportation sector is harder and more expensive than cutting carbon in the electricity sector. One should therefore think of DAC as competing with biofuels and electric vehicles, not with power-plant CCS and wind power. Finally, regulators have often chosen to impose higher effective carbon prices on the transportation sector than they have on electricity. DAC is more expensive than CCS but it competes in a different market with a different incentive structure CCS.

    The per barrel cost of DAC-EOR fuel is about 20% higher than the cost of conventional oil and it has a carbon intensity that is lower than most biofuels. DAC thus provides a near-term scalable technology that can supply low-carbon
    transportation fuels at a lower cost (and a lower land use footprint) than most biofuels.This gives DAC near -term markets where it can compete despite having higher cost per ton than power-plant CCS.”

  5. lracine Says:

    Here is a link to the open source pier reviewed paper about the pilot plant and process discussed in this post.

    A Process for Capturing CO2 from the Atmosphere

    ” When CO2 is delivered at 15 MPa, the design requires either 8.81 GJ of natural gas, or 5.25 GJ of gas and 366 kWhr of electricity, per ton of CO2 captured.”

    Ok so the energy source is Natural Gas… you are going to burn 8.81 GJ to capture a ton of CO2.

    For every MMBTU of Natural Gas Burned you will emit 117 pounds of CO2.

    So if I have done my math right.. 8.81 GJ is equal to 8.35 MMBTU times 117 is 976 pounds if CO2 emitted to capture 1 ton or 2000 pounds of CO2.

    The paper is a good read…

    • lracine Says:

      They are using a GE LM2500 gas fired turbine in a combined cycle set up. (this makes about 32 MW of Electricity), they are then stripping the turbine exhaust of CO2 and using the steam and electricity as inputs into the DAC process. So my above comment is incorrect…

      The chemical process of the DAC is “over my pay grade” but the energy balance of the process looks good…

      My gut was that is was more faux green bullshit… but this might work.

  6. We don’t need carbon neutral it’s too late for that (all that is still better than what we currently have) what is needed is carbon negative.

  7. Ron Benenati Says:

    so where is the source of water going to come from to mix with the carbon?
    Are they going to pump water out of our diminishing aquifers ….enough to fuel every vehicle, every combustion engine in the world?
    Considering forecasts for a coming water crisis…that should work out well.

    Getting electricity to each individual car is a monumental transformation? Has he heard of the “grid?”

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