The startup Carbon Engineering has a method for transforming atmospheric CO2 into small spheres which can be used as fuel.
The growing presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is one of the reasons that is pressing governments and institutions to enact more environmentally friendly policies. This trend can also be seen in the business world, where renewable energies and concern for the atmosphere are attracting more and more attention in the form of initiatives and investment.
Carbon Engineering is a Canadian startup which has created an original method to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. It is a system that can process this compound and concentrate it, converting it into small spheres that can then be used as fuel.
The method combines a series of large fans and a solution of hydroxides that react with air to finally produce these small spheres of calcium carbonate. The result is then heated to temperatures of 800 to 900 degrees to obtain pure carbon.
This compound can be stored or processed to be converted into hydrocarbons such as diesel. Since it started operations in June last year, the company has removed 10 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It has plans to build a plant for 2017 that can extract a million tonnes per day. This environmental effort is the equivalent of removing 100 cars from our roads every year.
It is not much when compared with the number of cars in use around the world. In Spain alone, there were nearly 28 million vehicles in use in 2014, 22 million of which were cars. The fact remains that the construction of this plant, which would cost some 200 million dollars, could be the start of an industry that feeds off of contaminating emissions.
Carbon Engineering already plans to sell synthetic fuel in 2018 that is produced from these spheres of transformed CO2 . The plant is capable of producing between 200 and 400 litres of diesel per day.
There are already solutions that try to eliminate CO2 from the atmosphere, but they are normally centred on factories and other places where the emissions are highly concentrated. It is another matter, however, when we are dealing with gases from buildings, transport or agriculture. For the moment the company enjoys the backing of important names among its investors, such as Bill Gates or the Canadian magnate Murray Edwards.