A giant machine has been launched in California to suck carbon dioxide from the air in an attempt to turn back the clock on climate change.
Climate technology company Heirloom has unveiled America’s first commercial Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility in the city of Tracy, approximately 60 miles from San Francisco.
The plant consists of rows of 40-foot-tall bins filled with powdered carbon-absorbing limestone and is poised to remove 1,000 tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere every year.
While this is a fraction of what the U.S. needs to reach its 2050 net-zero goal, the facility is the first step in Heirloom’s plans to rapidly expand on a global scale.
The process started two years ago in a petri dish — and Heirloom CEO Shashank Samala said he hopes they can suck a billion tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere by 2035 — or 10 percent of the global removal needed by 2050.
A giant machine that sucks carbon dioxide from the air has been launched in Los Angeles in an attempt to turn back the clock on climate change.
California climate technology company Heirloom has unveiled America’s first commercial Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility in the city of Tracy, about 60 miles from San Francisco
Heirloom makes money by selling carbon removal credits to companies like Microsoft, Shopify, JPMorgan, Workday, and H&M, which can then use them to offset their own emissions.
Microsoft has agreed to buy 315,000 tons of carbon removal from the company over ten years – its largest deal to date.
Heirloom co-founder Samala said the Tracy facility is “the closest thing we have to a time machine on Earth.”
“It can turn back the clock on climate change by removing carbon dioxide that has already been emitted into our atmosphere,” he said.
‘The capacity of Heirloom’s limestone-based technology to capture CO2 from the air has increased from 1 kilogram of CO2 to up to one million, or 1,000 tonnes, in just over two years.
“We owe it to every climate-sensitive citizen to continue deploying our technology at the urgent pace needed to reach billion-ton scale, and even further in time to halt the worst of climate change.”
The Biden administration has allocated $1.2 billion to carbon capture projects, including Heirloom, and the next plants will be built in Texas and Louisiana.
Scientists have warned that billions of tons of carbon dioxide will need to be removed from the atmosphere each year, and the US government aims to make this process more affordable in the future.
Current industrial prices for carbon removal through direct air capture are around $600-$1,000 per tonne, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Some of Heirloom’s first capture and storage sales in 2021 exceeded $2,000 per ton. The US government aims to reduce this to $100 per tonne over the next ten years.
‘We have to scale up. Scale is the only way we can make progress this quickly,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said after visiting the Tracy site.
The plant consists of rows of 40-foot-tall bins filled with powdered carbon-absorbing limestone and is poised to remove 1,000 tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere every year
‘We have to scale up. Scale is the only way we can make progress this quickly,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in an interview with Reuters after visiting the Tracy site.
Working with a startup called CarbonCure, Heirloom has tapped into the natural process of limestone formation, which occurs when calcium oxide bonds with carbon dioxide absorbed from the air.
The Tracy factory speeds up this process by heating the stone to 1650 degrees Fahrenheit in a kiln powered by renewable electricity.
The CO2 is released from the rock and pumped into a storage tank, while the white powdery calcium oxide byproduct is poured under water and spread over large containers.
Robots carry each of the trays to towering racks exposed to the air. In just three days, this powder absorbs CO2 from the air and turns it back into limestone, starting the cycle.