Carbon Engineering

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Carbon Engineering Ltd.
IndustryCarbon-neutral fuel; Carbon capture and storage
HeadquartersSquamish, British Columbia, Canada
Key people
Steve Oldham, B.Sc., Chief Executive Officer
David Keith, PhD, Founder
Dan Friedmann, Board Chair

Carbon Engineering is a Canadian-based clean energy company focussing on the commercialization of Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere.[1][2]

This captured CO
can either be stored underground or converted into carbon-neutral fuel using renewable energy sources, by a process the company calls AIR TO FUELS™.[3] From a pilot plant in Squamish, B.C.,[4] CE has been removing CO2 from the atmosphere since 2015 and converting it into fuels since December, 2017.

The company was founded in 2009 by David Keith, now a professor of public policy and applied physics at Harvard University,[5] and is now led by Steve Oldham, former Senior Vice President of Strategic Business Development at MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates.[6] Carbon Engineering is funded by several government and sustainability-focused agencies as well as by private investors, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and oil sands financier N. Murray Edwards.[7][8][9] In addition, around 2019 the company received 68 million USD from fossil fuel companies Chevron, Occidental, and BHP.[10]


Carbon Engineering's DAC system integrates two main cycles. The first cycle is the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere in a device called an "air contactor" using an alkaline hydroxide solution.[5][11] The second cycle regenerates the capture liquid used in the air contactor, and delivers pure CO2 as an end product.[12][11][13] These cycles operate in tandem continuously, producing a concentrated stream of CO2 gas as an output, and requiring only energy, water, and small material make up streams as inputs. Energy is used in such a way that no new CO2 emissions are incurred, and thus do not counteract what was captured from the air.[14] The captured atmospheric CO2 can be stored underground, used for enhanced oil recovery, or turned into low-carbon synthetic fuels using the company's AIR TO FUELS™ technology.[9][14][3]

CE's AIR TO FUELS™ process can produce fuels such as gasoline, diesel, or jet A using inputs of atmospheric CO2, water, and renewable electricity such as that from solar PV. Electricity is used to split water and manufacture hydrogen, which is then combined with captured atmospheric CO2 to form fuels.[15] This approach offers a means to deliver clean fuels that are compatible with existing engines, and can help de-carbonize the transportation sector by displacing fuels made from crude oil.

Pilot Plant Demonstration[edit]

In 2015, Carbon Engineering started operations of its full end-to-end pilot plant, located in Squamish, B.C. When running, this facility captures roughly 1 ton of atmospheric CO2 per day.[9] In 2017, CE incorporated fuel synthesis capability into the DAC pilot plant and converted CO2 into fuel for the first time in December, 2017.

Based on the data obtained from the pilot plant, David Keith and Carbon Engineering published a manuscript on June 7, 2018 that presents a simulation suggesting that CO2 can be captured from the atmosphere at a cost of 94 to 233 USD per ton, "[d]epending on financial assumptions, energy costs, and the specific choice of inputs and outputs."[16] The manuscript, titled "A process for capturing CO₂ from the atmosphere," was published in the journal Joule.

Both DAC and AIR TO FUELSTM technologies have been proven at CE's pilot plant and are now being scaled up into commercial markets. Individual DAC facilities can be built to capture 1,000,000 tons of CO2 per year.[17] At that scale, one Carbon Engineering air capture plant could negate the emissions from ~250,000 cars – either by sequestering the CO2 or by using the recycled carbon dioxide as a feedstock to produce synthetic fuel.[18]


  1. ^ Peters, Adele (2015-09-21). "These Enormous Fans Suck CO2 Out Of The Air And Turn It Into Fuel". Fast Company. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  2. ^ Harris, Richard. "This Machine Can Suck Carbon Out Of The Air". NPR. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2018-06-14). "Sucking carbon out of the air won't solve climate change". Vox. Retrieved 2017-08-16.
  4. ^ Clifford Krauss (April 8, 2019). "Big Oil Bets on Carbon Removal". The New York Times.
  5. ^ a b Karstens-Smith, Gemma. "Carbon Engineering unveils groundbreaking carbon capture project in Squamish, B.C." CBC News. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  6. ^ "About Us". Carbon Engineering. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  7. ^ Hamilton, Tyler. "Snatching CO2 back from the air". Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  8. ^ Eisenberg, Anne (2013-01-05). "Pulling Carbon Dioxide Out of Thin Air". New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Gunther, Marc. "The business of cooling the planet". FORTUNE. Time Inc.
  10. ^ McGrath, Matt (3 April 2019). "Climate change 'magic bullet' gets boost". BBC. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  11. ^ a b SEMENIUK, Ivan. "Could this plant hold the key to generating fuel from CO2 emissions?". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  12. ^ "1 Climate Change Technology Company That Could Lead to a Green Future, and It's Not Solar". The Motley Fool. 2015-08-08. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  13. ^ Wenz, John (2015-07-22). "This Giant Wind Wall Sucks Carbon Dioxide Out of the Air". Popular Mechanics. Hearst. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  14. ^ a b Baker, John. "Market outlook: Out of thin air". ICIS Chemical Business. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  15. ^ "How Carbon Engineering plans to make a fortune out of thin air". Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News. 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2017-08-16.
  16. ^ Keith, David W.; et al. (June 7, 2018). "A Process for Capturing CO2 from the Atmosphere". Joule. 0.
  17. ^ Jones, Nicola. "Can Pulling Carbon from Air Make a Difference on Climate?". Yale Environment 360. Yale University. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  18. ^ Smith, David. "CARBON CAPTURE TECHNOLOGY: CLEANING UP OUR SKIES". Disqus. Retrieved 12 February 2016.

External links[edit]