Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hopeful Fact: Bill Gates Invests To Take Carbon Out Of The Air

The Sunday New York Times Business Section had a fascinating article about a Canadian Company called Carbon Engineering that was founded in 2009 with $3.5 million from investors, including Bill Gates.

Carbon Engineering is attempting to develop a commercial scale plant that would remove 100,000 tons of carbon per year from the air, about the carbon emissions of 20,000 cars each year in the US.  To put that 100,000 tons further in perspective, annual energy related carbon emissions in the USA are now about 5.3 billion tons and world emissions are above 30 billion tons.

The article suggests that Carbon Engineering is making progress toward its goal of a commercial plant.  The hurdles that must be cleared to reach success, however, are large, with the principal one being the cost per ton of carbon removed from the air.  The NYT states the cost of removing from the air is uncertain and to underline that point states that estimates range from $20 to $2,000 per ton.

It, nonetheless, impressive that this company has secured investment from Bill Gates, and Carbon Engineering's concept has one huge advantage over capturing carbon at power plants or other sources.  Capturing the carbon at a power plant is just the beginning and the easiest part.

Once captured, the carbon must be transported by pipelines to a place of storage.  Often power plants are impossibly far from viable storage places, making carbon capture and storage impossible.  And building pipelines is never easy or cheap, no matter how long or short the line may be.

A plant designed to take carbon out of the air, of course, can be built near or on top of places where excellent storage exists.  As such, Carbon Engineering's approach solves what now is often a fatal barrier to carbon capture and storage projects.

1 comment:

  1. John, I sincerely hope you do a review of "FrackNation". I want your take on Mr. MacAleer's word spin and how its hurting the industry, especially "the water in Dimock has always been fine" BS. Also, the big fact that methane migration from drilling operations is and does cause your tap to be lit on fire. Several Dimock residents told me Mr. MacAleer tricked them into interviews by telling them he was making a film to save Ireland from fracking. Think about it. Would an fracavist do an interview for a pro gas video?