Direct Air Capture

An interesting technical development on the CO2 front. But this response from “environmentalists” is telling:

Some climate campaigners are positive about the development of direct air capture technology, but others are worried that it will be used to prolong the fossil fuel era.

“It’s a huge concern,” Tzeporah Berman, international programme director for Stand dot earth, told BBC News.

“We need to be working together to figure out how we move away completely from fossil fuel – that’s our moral and economic challenge but these technologies provide a false hope that we can continue to depend on fossil fuels and produce and burn them, and technology will fix it – we are way past that point!”

Others are concerned that the development of direct air capture devices may just encourage some people to think that they don’t have to personally reduce their carbon footprint.

“I think there’s a real danger that people will see this technology as a magic bullet and not cut back their carbon,” said Shakti Ramkumar, a student at the University of British Columbia (UBC), who is active in climate change protests.

“We have a moral responsibility to reduce our consumption on a large scale. We need to reflect deeply on how we live our lives and whether everyone can have access to the things we have, and fairness, so we can all live a good life.”

Why, it’s almost as though they hate cheap energy, and want to run others’ lives, and don’t really care about carbon dioxide.

14 thoughts on “Direct Air Capture”

  1. Well, it sounds potentially lucrative because they’ll convince plenty of guilt-ridden alarmist governments to pay $100 a tonne for CO2 removal, without those governments realizing that they could just pay $0 a ton and let an even more guilt-ridden government do the scrubbing.

    It’s like peddling a way to remove toxic trace elements like arsenic from the soil. It’s completely pointless, but you can convince unthinking do-gooders that the world would be a safer and cleaner place if they paid you a ton of other people’s money to do the completely unnecessary thing.

    Anyway, once they get the system up and running we should get some strawberry farmers to file a lawsuit over fertilizer theft.

  2. The other trick is what to do with what you capture. It’s the whole Yucca mountain scenario again. How can you be sure you stored it properly and none of it will ever leak?

    The difference is it was pretty easy to measure for radiation around Yucca mountain and determine if it was from the stored material. On the other hand CO2 and methane are always in the air. Just tell the tech to run up the side of the mountain, hold the air sampling device by his head, take a reading, and run back. The key is do it quickly, but before you go, have this soda to drink.

    1. The most $ positive thing to do with the CO2 is enhanced oil recovery. And because the DAC collectors can be put anywhere, they’ll first be put on the oil fields that would benefit most.

    2. Well, after you get paid $100 per ton for removing the CO2 from the air, you start demanding yearly protection money so that the removed CO2 stays removed, turning the con into a nice little racket.

      Since sequestration doesn’t seem to be a great solution even at a coal power plant’s exhaust stack, where the CO2 is highly concentrated, and still wouldn’t eliminate the risk of re-emissions, I’ll suggest a far better solution: Freeze the CO2 into dry ice and have Elon send it to Mars. Let’s channel all that environmental guilt into thickening Mars’ atmosphere.

  3. Cheap DAC is a huge negative for nuclear as it currently stands. Exelon’s president has stated that at current natural gas prices in the US, the CO2 tax would have to be > $300/ton for new nuclear, at current construction costs, to compete.

    DAC also works great with peakers, since you can size the capture equipment to average CO2 emission, not instantaneous emission. Wind and solar cover just 80% of demand? No problem, just burn natural gas for the rest and capture the CO2 at your leisure.

  4. No one is cutting back on carbon use, some are lying about cutting back on carbon use and/or are delusional about cutting back on carbon use.

  5. Y’all talking about CO2 totally missed the point. It isn’t about CO2. CO2 is just a symptom of the real problem, humanity expanding in time, space, capability, wealth, comfort, and esoteric goods.

    The elimination of CO2 emissions would still leave us with these problems unless in the effort to deal with CO2, we can cripple humanity from being human. Everyone trying to come up with ways to deal with the boogeyman of CO2 that still allows humanity to expand, create comfort, and have abundant energy to allow this are not helping solve the “real” problems.

    AGW alarmists use science as a shield and many people take the bait. It has virtually nothing to do with science and almost everything to do with pecadillos of human nature. The sciency crowd feels immune to woo because they reject woo and look down on others who openly express woo but they are not self aware enough to realize they are constructed of woo.

    1. I’ve always recognized the carbon tax as the ultimate tax. Carbon is what defines all living organisms on Earth. Once governments can tax carbon; every living thing can be taxed. After that, it is simply a matter of rate.

      1. Energy is even more fundamental. We already have a fair amount of nannying over energy conservation.

  6. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see this process as carbon neutral? Where the heck are they getting the energy to “heat to 900C” or “pass over a catalyst at 900 degrees C” unless that’s strictly from a non-carbon source like nuclear, hydro, geothermal, wind or solar? Sounds like a Ponzi scheme to me.

    1. And then they turn the CO2 into methane via the usual routes, and the methane can be upgraded to dimethyl ether with a gamma-alumina catalyst, and that can be converted to octane using Exxon’ zeolite catalyst, all at high temperatures and pressures of course. Ignoring the losses its perfectly efficient, so you can power the conversion plant with up votes and likes.

      If we had the clean energy sources to turn CO2 back into coal and oil, we wouldn’t need to burn coal and oil in the first place, so they’re solving a secondary problem by assuming that the primary problem is already solved.

    2. I’m not sure about this company’s process, but there was another one analyzed recently that would be powered by gas (although an all electric variant also exists). It would capture its own CO2 emissions as well.

      This paper was very interesting, because previous research had claimed the minimum cost was much higher. It turned out that previous work had made the common mistake of the Argument from Bad Engineering: approach X to problem Y doesn’t work, therefore Y is not possible/practical/affordable. One must always be careful when arguing against a technology because of this fallacy. The impossibility arguments require being as comprehensive as possible in examining possible approaches (example: looking at MSRs, not just LWRs, when talking about possible future application of nuclear fission, or SpaceX-style reuse vs. the Shuttle when talking about reusable launch vehicles.)

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