Squamish, British Columbia CO2 air capture company Carbon Engineering has inked a partnership with Sacramento, California fuel conversion company Greyrock Energy to develop a commercial air-to-fuels system which would convert ambient CO2 pulled directly from the air and transform it into liquid transportation fuels that can be used by existing transportation infrastructure.
The partnership between Carbon Engineering and Greyrock will see the integration of a commercial demonstration plant already running in Squamish with Greyrock’s small scale gas-to-liquids systems to produce clean, specification liquid fuels, in this case converting atmospheric carbon dioxide to low carbon liquid fuels, using scalable processing technologies.
“Carbon Engineering is committed to develop and commercialize technologies to produce ultra-low carbon intensity fuels utilizing atmospheric CO2,” said Carbon Engineering CEO Adrian Corless. “We are excited to to work with Greyrock Energy on this and future Air to Fuels projects. Hydrocarbon synthesis from atmospheric CO2 is a wholly transformative technology.”
For Carbon Engineering, the deal represents the first step to scale up a new technology capable of capturing and sequestering ambient carbon dioxide, which right now only exists as a modest pre-commercialization test facility in Squamish.
Although Carbon Engineering’s main air capture plant has a capacity for removing one tonne of CO2 from the air per day, it has already received a lot of attention, including private investments from Bill Gates and Murray Edwards.
Greyrock Energy, which was founded in 2006, has developed several proprietary technologies, including its own Direct Fuel Production process and their GreyCat catalyst, which enable production of clean liquid fuels from a variety of gas resources, including flare gas, bio-gas, natural gas, and natural gas liquids.
Carbon Engineering was founded in 2009, and grew out of academic work done by Professor David Keith’s research groups at the University of Calgary and then at Carnegie Mellon University on carbon management technologies.
“Greyrock is pleased to be selected by Carbon Engineering for this unique project,” said Greyrock CEO Robert Schuetzle. “We recognize the many years of work that Carbon Engineering has done to capture CO2 from ambient air and believe that commercial systems to produce liquid fuels from this feedstock are within striking distance. Environmental benefits driven by this combination of emerging technologies are substantial.”
Humans currently unleash more than 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, mainly from burning fossil fuels.
The primary means of capturing CO2 from that atmosphere that we now have basically remains trees.
Carbon Engineering is proposing to implement a more efficient process than what trees are already do naturally, but on a mass scale by siphoning air from the sky through large fans and then processing that into purified carbon dioxide, which can be used for other purposes, such as reprocessing for fuel, or being turned into building materials or sequestered into cement, as Dartmouth, Nova Scotia’s CarbonCure does.
In March, the B.C. government awarded $3.75 million to Carbon Engineering through its Innovative Clean Energy Fund, which is aimed at promoting development of technologies relating to clean-energy vehicles, clean air and clean water.
If Carbon Engineering and Greyrock can scale this method of carbon dioxide sequestration and convert the CO2 to fuel, it could result in larger commercial systems throughout Canada and the U.S.