As the number of carbon capture projects continues to grow in the US, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $12m in federal funding to boost a further six projects that are currently advancing direct air capture (DAC) technology.

A carbon dioxide (CO2) removal approach that extracts CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, DAC technology is already being pioneered by the likes of Canada-based Carbon Engineering and Switzerland-based Climeworks.

Sharing news of the funding on Tuesday (15th June) DOE said the chosen projects are currently being housed at universities and labs in Arizona, North Carolina, Illinois and Kansas, with each project creating tools to increase the amount of CO2 captured via DAC.

Commenting on the dedicated capital and projects, Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, said, “Across the US, in states like Arizona and North Carolina, brilliant innovators are developing DAC technologies that can extract CO2 straight out of the air.”

“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.”

Now selected to benefit from the $12m grant, the following projects will be managed by the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management and the National Energy Technology Laboratory:

  • Increase the amount of CO2 captured in DAC operations – Cormetech, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, plans to develop a DAC contactor, the process and material through which air and CO2 is moved and captured, that will maximise the amount of CO2 captured from the atmosphere, while reducing the amount of energy needed to operate. The project will receive $1.5m.
  • Initiate early-stage testing of DAC systems operated by low-cost wind power – The Research Triangle Institute, 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. The project will receive $1.5m.
  • Develop high-capacity regenerative materials for novel DAC technology – The project housed at Susteon, 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. The project will receive $1.5m.

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, 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. The project will receive $2.5m.
  • 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 the University of Arizona, aims to capture a steady capacity of 1,000 tonnes of CO2 per day. The project will receive $2.5m.
  • Utilise low-carbon energy sources to power commercial scale DAC operations - The University of 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 to reduce the life-cycle emissions of DAC technology. The project will receive just under $2.5m.