Biden administration launches $3.5 billion program to capture carbon pollution from the air

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a Notice of Intent (NOI) to fund the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $3.5 billion program to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution directly from the air. The Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs program will support four large-scale, regional direct air capture hubs that each comprise a network of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) projects to help address the impacts of climate change, creating good-paying jobs and prioritizing community engagement and environmental justice. In addition to efforts to deeply decarbonize the economy through methods like clean power, efficiency, and industrial innovation, the widespread deployment of direct air capture technologies and CO2 transport and storage infrastructure plays a significant role in delivering on President Biden’s goal of achieving an equitable transition to a net-zero economy by 2050. 

Direct air capture is a process that separates CO2 from ambient air. The separated CO2 is then permanently stored deep underground or converted for use in long-life products like concrete that prevent its release back into the atmosphere. This differs from carbon capture systems at industrial facilities and power plants that prevent additional emissions from being released into the air in the first place. 

By midcentury, CDR will need to be deployed at the gigaton scale. To put this in perspective, one gigaton of subsurface sequestered CO2 is equivalent to the annual emissions from the U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet—the equivalent of approximately 250 million vehicles driven in one year. 

Each of the projects selected for the Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs program will demonstrate the delivery and storage or end use of removed atmospheric carbon. The hubs will have the capacity to capture and then permanently store at least one million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually, either from a single unit or from multiple interconnected units. 

In the development and deployment of the four regional direct air capture hubs, DOE will also emphasize environmental justice, community engagement, consent-based siting, equity and workforce development, and domestic supply chains and manufacturing.  

For more information, read the NOI on FedConnect

To learn more about DAC and other CDR approaches, please also join DOE for the virtual Carbon Negative Shot Summit on July 20 and 21, 2022. The Summit will convene a diverse set of perspectives to discuss the development and deployment of CDR technologies and infrastructure in the United States, as well as explore justice and equity principles and workforce development opportunities. 

DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) funds research, development, demonstration, and deployment projects to decarbonize power generation and industrial production to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and to mitigate the environmental impacts of fossil fuel production and use. Priority areas of technology work include point-source carbon capture, carbon dioxide conversion, carbon dioxide removal, reliable carbon storage and transport, hydrogen production with carbon management, methane emissions reduction, and critical minerals production. To learn more, visit the FECM websitesign up for FECM news announcements and visit the National Energy Technology Laboratory website

DOE awards $2.5 million for direct air capture study at Constellation Nuclear Plant in Illinois

Read the company news release.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $2.5 million grant to Constellation and its project partners to explore the benefits of constructing direct air capture (DAC) technology at the company’s Byron nuclear energy plant in Northern Illinois. While nuclear plants do not produce any carbon emissions, direct air capture would remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, a possible next-generation technology to help our nation combat the climate crisis.

Constellation, the nation’s largest producer of carbon-free energy, will partner with 1PointFive Inc., Worley Group Inc., Carbon Engineering Ltd., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to research the viability of DAC technology at the zero-emission Byron plant.

Carbon storage gets dirty: The movement to sequester CO2 in soils

Read the full story at Canary Media.

The idea of ​“soil carbon sequestration” is gaining traction with U.S. food producers and policymakers as a way to counteract the environmental toll of growing commodities like corn, soy and beef. The concept falls into a wider category of potential solutions for achieving ​“carbon dioxide removal,” which includes everything from planting trees and deep-sea kelp forests to spreading minerals over oceans and using giant air-sucking fans to capture CO2.

Technology to absorb CO₂ at power plants is promising

ISTC engineer Paul Nielsen stands beside the biphasic solvent system at the Abbott Power Plant in Champaign, IL.

by Lisa Sheppard, Prairie Research Institute

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) researchers have given the thumbs up to an innovative biphasic solvent system for its efficiency and effectiveness in absorbing CO₂ from flue gas in a coal-fired power plant at the University of Illinois (U of I).

With $3.4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory, an ISTC team sought to validate the various advantages of a biphasic CO₂ absorption process (BiCAP) at a 40-kilowatt electric small pilot scale at the Abbott Power Plant on the U of I campus. The system was designed based on the testing results at the laboratory scale under a previous DOE cooperative agreement.

Previous laboratory testing has proved the biphasic solvent-based process concept and has shown that the technique can achieve greater than 90 percent capture efficiency and greater than 95 percent CO₂ purity and has the potential to significantly increase energy efficiency and reduce  CO₂ capture cost.

From the recent field testing, the team verified that their technology could achieve 95 percent efficiency in CO₂ capture, compared with 90 percent in conventional methods, with a 40 percent higher energy efficiency. The cost advantages have not yet been determined, but previous laboratory testing showed a 26 percent cost reduction. The system has also been shown to run continuously for two weeks, verifying that it can operate under Midwest winter weather conditions.

“The conventional CO₂ capture process has several disadvantages, and our goal was to reduce the carbon footprint and costs and increase the energy efficiency,” said Yongqi Lu, principal investigator. “These energy-efficiency advantages of the BiCAP system, coupled with reduced equipment sizes when scaled up for commercial systems, will lead to reductions in both capital and operating expenses.”

The BiCAP method uses biphasic solvent blends that can form and develop dual-liquid phases during CO₂ absorption. The solvents, which were tested and selected in previous DOE-funded studies, are highly resistant to degrading from either high temperatures or oxidative atmospheres. Also, less solvent is required for this process.

Although the focus of the study was on CO₂ capture from flue gas at coal-fired power plants, the BiCAP technology can be used in natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) plants as well, incorporating flue gas from natural gas, biomass, plastics, and other renewable materials.

“The exciting feature of this capture technology is its robust nature and ability to be used on a variety of flue gas sources. We are now ready for commercial partners to assist in moving this technology to the marketplace,” said Kevin OBrien, co-principal investigator for the project and director of ISTC.

Preliminary tests with synthetic NGCC flue gas made of air and bottled CO2 gas have been performed on the small pilot unit recently. Results revealed that a 95 percent CO2 removal rate could be achieved, and the energy use only slightly increased compared with that for the coal flue gas that contains more concentrated CO2.

The concept of biphasic solvents was developed as part of a dissertation research project in 2013–2015. From 2015 through 2018, screening of biphasic solvents and studies of proof of the BiCAP process concept were conducted at the laboratory scale with funding from DOE. After that, the small pilot system was designed, constructed, and tested at the Abbott Power Plant with continued DOE support.

The main research team for this project was transferred from the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) to ISTC in January 2022. Now that the team has collected the data, the next steps are to complete a techno-economic analysis, then scale-up the technology for commercial use.

Media contact: Yongqi Lu, 217-244-4985, yongqilu@illinois.edu or
news@prairie.illinois.edu

This story first appeared on the Prairie Research Institute News Blog. Read the original story.

Jennifer Holmgren: from alternative fuels pioneer to carbon recycling queen

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

If you’d like to find out whether Jennifer Holmgren can do something, the quickest way is to tell her she can’t.

The Colombian-born chemist started her career in the late 1980s, in a lab in Des Plaines, Illinois, working for a company called UOP that would later be acquired by Honeywell. UOP developed technology for the petroleum and petrochemical industries, and after becoming the company’s director of exploratory research in 2002, Holmgren began pitching the idea of bio-based chemicals and fuels. Given this was a company squarely focused on the fossil fuel industry, she faced plenty of internal pushback from colleagues who thought the whole idea of alternative fuels was something of a joke. Still, by 2006, she’d convinced the higher-ups to create, and let her lead, a renewable energy and chemical division.

DOE invests $14 million to scale up direct air capture and storage technology, coupled to low-carbon energy resources

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $14 million in funding for five front-end engineering design (FEED) studies that will leverage existing zero- or low-carbon energy to supply direct air capture (DAC) projects, combined with dedicated and reliable carbon storage. DAC is a process that separates carbon dioxide (CO2) from ambient air. When the separated CO2 is safely and permanently stored deep underground or converted to be used in value-added products like concrete, DAC is part of a carbon dioxide removal approach. The selected studies will advance the evaluation of DAC technology coupled to durable storage—both of which could play a critical role in conjunction with aggressive decarbonization in combatting the climate crisis and achieving the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“These studies lay a critical foundation for technology demonstrations that will lead to responsible, effective, and affordable deployment of direct air capture as we seek to address hard to decarbonize sectors in addition to legacy impacts of fossil fuel production and use,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of FECM Dr. Jennifer Wilcox. “Looking forward, resources authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will make it possible for us to prove these technologies out at scale and accelerate their deployment while providing good-paying jobs as our nation continues its transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

The following studies will provide a better understanding of system costs and performance, as well as business case options for existing DAC technologies coupled to durable storage that are capable of removing a minimum of 5,000 tonnes per year net CO2 from the air and are co-located with domestic zero- or low-carbon thermal energy sourced from geothermal or nuclear power plants and low-grade heat from industrial facilities:

  • Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Champaign, Illinois) will leverage thermal energy from the Brawley Geothermal Plant in Brawley, California, for a DAC system developed by Climeworks that will separate CO2 from ambient air, and is strategically located near a proposed geologic storage site. Award amount: $2,495,197
  • Constellation (Baltimore, Maryland) will use a DAC system developed by Carbon Engineering, integrated with an existing light water nuclear reactor at Constellation’s Byron Generating Station in Byron, Illinois, to separate CO2 from ambient air and transport the CO2 for permanent geologic storage. Award amount: $2,500,000 
  • Battelle Memorial Institute (Columbus, Ohio) will leverage available thermal energy from Southern Company’s Joseph M. Farley nuclear power plant in Columbia, Alabama, for a DAC system developed by AirCapture LLC that will separate CO2 from ambient air for off-site geologic storage. Award amount: $2,499,178
  • Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Champaign, Illinois) will use the DAC and CO2 conversion technologies developed by CarbonCapture Inc. and CarbonCure, respectively, in an advanced DAC and utilization system coupled to CO2 conversion at U.S. Steel’s Gary Works in Gary, Indiana, to separate CO2 from ambient air and convert the CO2 into concrete products. Award amount: $3,459,554
  • AirCapture LLC (Pine Plains, New York) will execute its advanced DAC system at Nutrien’s Kennewick Fertilizer Operations facility in Kennewick, Washington, to separate CO2 from ambient air and convert the CO2 into value-added chemicals. Award amount: $2,934,380

This funding opportunity was a collaborative effort among DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), Office of Nuclear Energy, and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office. The selected projects will be managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and will support FECM’s Carbon Dioxide Removal and Conversion programs.   

A detailed list of the selected projects can be found here.  

Also, save July 20 and 21, 2022 on your calendar for the virtual Carbon Negative Shot Summit, when you’ll be able to learn more about DAC with durable storage and other carbon dioxide removal approaches. The Summit is a two-day event centered on Carbon Negative Shot, DOE’s all-hands-on-deck call for innovation in technologies and approaches that will remove CO2 from the atmosphere by capturing and durably storing it at gigatonne scales for less than $100/net metric ton of CO2-equivalent.

FECM funds research, development, demonstration, and deployment projects to decarbonize power generation and industrial sources, to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and to mitigate the environmental impacts of fossil fuel production and use. Priority areas of technology work include point-source carbon capture, carbon dioxide conversion, carbon dioxide removal, dedicated and reliable carbon storage and transport, hydrogen with carbon management, methane emissions reduction, and critical mineral production. To learn more, visit the FECM websitesign up for FECM news announcements, and visit the NETL website.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

How NovoNutrients upcycles CO2 into alternative proteins for human and animal food

Read the full story at Food Engineering.

The company mixes CO2, hydrogen and a naturally occurring microbe, then ferments it to create high-grade protein with several potential uses.

New polymer membrane tech improves efficiency of carbon dioxide capture

Read the full story from North Carolina State University.

Researchers have developed a new membrane technology that allows for more efficient removal of carbon dioxide from mixed gases, such as emissions from power plants.

Climeworks raises $650 million to scale direct air capture capacity

Read the full story at ESG Today.

Zurich-based Direct Air Capture (DAC) startup Climeworks announced that it has raised CHF 600 million (nearly USD$650 million) in an equity funding round led by global private markets firm Partners Group and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC. The funding will be used to scale Climework’s Direct Air Capture capacity.

Additional investors included Baillie Gifford, Carbon Removal Partners, Global Founders Capital, M&G, and Swiss Re.

Amazon doubles down on clean construction

Read the full story at Axios.

Amazon is working with CarbonCure Technologies, a sustainable materials construction startup, on 13 of its current building projects, the companies tell Axios.