US DOE Fund Direct Air Capture Tech That Extracts CO2 from Air

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $12 million in federal funding for six research and development (R&D) projects that are advancing direct air capture (DAC) technology, a carbon dioxide removal approach that extracts carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the atmosphere. The projects, housed at universities and labs in Arizona, North Carolina, Illinois and Kansas, are creating tools that will increase the amount of CO2 captured by DAC, decrease the cost of materials, and improve the energy efficiency of carbon removal operations. When deployed, this next generation of clean energy technology will help reach the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of a net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Across the U.S., in states like Arizona and North Carolina, brilliant innovators are developing Direct Air Capture technologies that can extract carbon dioxide straight out of the air,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “These DOE investments, and the ones we will make with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, are crucial to advancing technology that will help us avoid the worst effects of climate change and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.”

DAC technologies can extract CO2 directly from the atmosphere, an important tool to achieving a net-zero economy, yet powering a DAC operation can be costly and energy intensive. The projects selected today will focus on R&D to reduce costs holding back deployment and increase design and operational efficiency to ensure that the removal process is carbon-negative.

The following six projects will be managed by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and will:

  • Increase the amount of CO2 captured in DAC operations – Cormetech, Inc. (Charlotte, NC) plans to develop a DAC contactor, the process and material through which air and CO2 is moved and captured, that will maximize the amount of CO2 captured from the atmosphere, while reducing the amount of energy needed to operate. (Award amount: $1,500,000)  
  • Initiate early-stage testing of DAC systems operated by low-cost wind power – The Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) team will design, fabricate and test an early-stage DAC contactor powered by low-cost wind energy, increasing the efficiency of DAC technology operations. (Award amount: $1,500,000)  
  • Develop high-capacity regenerative materials for novel DAC technology – The project housed at Susteon Inc. (Cary, North Carolina) intends to reduce the cost of DAC operations by developing a structured material that is both regenerative and able to capture and contain high amounts of CO2.By developing new materials with the ability to capture more CO2 it can reduce the amount of energy required to operate the system–reducing overall costs. (Award amount: $1,500,000)

Three of the six selected projects will also explore DAC operations in three distinct geographical locations, with varying climates, in an effort to create a first-ever DAC system that can capture 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Currently, no existing DAC system has this CO2 capacity.

  • Execute early-stage engineering designs for DAC technology – The Black & Veatch Corporation (Overland Park, Kansas) team will develop an initial engineering design of a DAC system to be placed in Odessa, Texas, Bucks, Alabama, and Goose Creek Illinois, aimed at capturing 100,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere per year. (Award amount: $2,500,000) 
  • Implement an initial design of three carbon farms using a commercial-scale DAC system –  Silicon Kingdom Holdings Limited (Dublin, Ireland) will complete three initial designs using a commercial-scale, passive DAC system that absorbs CO2. This design, developed at Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ), aims to capture a steady capacity of 1,000 tonnes of CO2 per day. (Award amount: $2,500,000)
  • Utilize low-carbon energy sources to power commercial scale DAC operations – The University of Illinois (Champaign, Illinois) team will develop preliminary designs for large-scale direct air capture and work with partners to perfect the designs to permanently store CO2 at underground facilities in Wyoming, Louisiana and California. In addition to examining the effects of different climate conditions, the project will measure the impact of using different low-carbon power sources (e.g., geothermal, solar, wind or waste heat)to reduce the life-cycle emissions of DAC technology. (Award amount: $2,499,798)

The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management funds R&D projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced fossil energy technologies and further the sustainable use of the Nation’s fossil resources. To learn more about our programs, visit the Fossil Energy and Carbon Management website or sign up for FECM news announcements. More information about the National Energy Technology Laboratory is available on the NETL website.