Company Grabs CO2 From the Air to Make Fuel

Carbon Engineering is backed by billionaires including Bill Gates
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2015 6:00 PM CDT
Company Grabs CO2 From the Air to Make Fuel
This Jan. 23, 2013, file photo, shows a poor air quality sign is posted over a highway, in Salt Lake City.    (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Visit a town north of Vancouver and you may notice a long, blue building that appears ordinary—but it just may be leading the way in climate-change technology. Run by the Canadian company Carbon Engineering, the plant is busy capturing carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere. It's also designed to process the greenhouse gas into carbon pellets that can help make fuel or just be buried underground, AFP reports. "It's now possible to take CO2 out of the atmosphere, and use it ... to produce net zero emission fuels," says company CEO Adrian Corless. "You don't have to re-tool the $30 trillion in (global) infrastructure now used to deliver fossil fuels." And he's not alone: Billionaires including Bill Gates and oil sands financier Murray Edwards are already investing, the Toronto Star reports.

Running since May, the pilot plant should grab about a ton of CO2 daily—about the same as removing 100 cars from the road, the CBC reports. It works by running air through equipment that absorbs CO2 in a liquid solution and turns it into calcium-carbonate pellets (see a diagram at Quartz). The pellets are then heated in order to free pure carbon. "There's no real magic to it," says Corless. "The pieces of equipment already exist today in very large scale." Indeed, companies in California and Switzerland are also aiming to capture airborne CO2. Carbon Engineering isn't commercially viable just yet, but carbon pricing varies and could eventually hit $100 per ton. Would that be enough? "That’s getting pretty damn close," says company founder David Keith. (One study found that "global cooling" isn't such a far-fetched theory.)

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