How Carbon Removal as a Service is Poised to Aid Clean Energy Transition

November 02, 2021 - by +Vantage Vinyl
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How Carbon Removal as a Service is Poised to Aid Clean Energy Transition

Rendering of what Carbon Engineering's large scale Direct Air Capture plants will look like. Image credit: Occidental

Imagine a world where all the carbon dioxide (CO2) that is emitted through activities such as manufacturing, air travel and hydrocarbon production could be captured with the carbon put right back underground where it came from.

This is the future that energy company Occidental and its subsidiary Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV) are demonstrating is feasible. Occidental is on a path to achieve net-zero emissions in its own operations and those associated with their products before 2050. And they are helping others reduce theirs, too. Launched in 2018 to support Occidental’s carbon management efforts, OLCV has rapidly grown from investing in low-carbon technologies to working toward deploying several at commercial scale.

One of the company’s solutions is Direct Air Capture (DAC), a technology that captures CO2 directly from the atmosphere to be permanently sequestered deep underground. In 2020, Occidental formed 1PointFive, focused on large-scale commercial development of Carbon Engineering’s DAC technology.

Here’s how DAC works: the technology captures and concentrates the CO2 in the atmosphere from 0.04% to more than 95%. It uses a potassium hydroxide solution to capture the CO2, converting the potassium carbonate to calcium carbonate, and then decomposing the calcium carbonate to CO2. Once concentrated, the CO2 is compressed and liquified, and Occidental has the ability to securely inject it deep underground into suitable and certified geologic formations, where it becomes trapped and eventually turns into rock.

Measuring the Opportunity
The opportunity of DAC to address rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is vast. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and most recently the International Energy Agency (IEA) have reinforced the importance of carbon dioxide utilization and storage (CCUS) and DAC solutions in the global ‘race to zero’. These technologies will be critical, both in terms of decarbonization efforts and in removing billions of tons of CO2 per year that climate science requires to be slashed in just a few decades to keep global warming within 1.5oC.

In their quest to commercialize carbon capture technology and utilize the captured CO2, OLCV is actively engaged in many different types of projects in the CCUS space. A recent example: In April 2021, OLCV announced that it had teamed with bioengineering startup Cemvita Factory to construct and operate a one metric ton per month bio-ethylene pilot plant using a jointly developed technology that uses human-made CO2 instead of hydrocarbon-sourced feedstocks.

“We need the most practical, economic solutions to meet our net-zero goals. Some facilities will implement point-source capture, some will change technologies, some will use emission reduction credits, such as from reforestation, to get to net-zero. Direct air capture provides a technology solution that can work in tandem with other efforts to enable even greater emissions reduction quickly, to achieve our net-zero goals,” says Dr. Robert Zeller, Vice President for Technology — Low Carbon Ventures at Oxy.

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