Carbon Engineering (CE) is an independent Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta.
CE’s focus on cost effective, industrial scale, air-capture technologies includes in-house engineering, laboratory work, and pilot scale research in concert with component testing performed by our partner engineering firms and vendors.
CE has an in-house core of full-time engineers, chemists, and physicists. As of spring 2013, CE has 10 employees on a full-time equivalent basis. Our in-house team is complimented by a handful of part-time senior engineers with expertise in areas of particular importance to CE who are retained on long-term consulting contracts. All of CE’s R&D activities are undertaken in partnership with leading engineering firms and equipment vendors.
Incorporated in 2009 and privately owned, CE is funded by private investors including Bill Gates and Murray Edwards. CE grew from academic work conducted on carbon management technologies by Professor David Keith’s research groups at the University of Calgary and Carnegie Mellon University.
Intellectual property (IP) is crucial to CE’s growth strategy. All IP is owned by CE and is managed by Fish and Richardson, a leading global IP firm.
CE will bring industrial-scale air capture to market, by designing and building the world’s first air capture plant. CE’s technology will complement CCS and other mitigation options by capturing atmospheric - not geologic - CO2, in order to help manage the 60% of emissions that do not come from point-sources.
As economies try to meet the daunting technological and policy challenges of making deep reductions in CO2 emissions, and as industries try to reduce their exposure to emissions-related financial risks, air capture will prove to be an attractive option in many markets and sectors.
Our best-practice engineering and cost-estimation efforts will allow potential investors and customers to make clear choices on the use of air capture or other mitigation options. CE’s detailed engineering and design work continues to push policy-makers to seriously consider air capture as an attractive tool in tackling long-term climate change impacts.
“The successful demonstration of a megaton-scale commercial facility will be the catalyst that ignites a large-scale air capture industry. This industry can then generate R&D required to drive down costs, allowing air capture to play a major role in solving the climate problem.”
– David Keith, CE President
CE’s technology strategy is to develop a low-risk, chemical-based CO2 air capture system that minimizes up-front capital costs.
Our approach is to combine and adapt technologies that have been proven to work at industrial scale with our own IP and innovations. We do not rely on high-risk technologies, or novel and uncertain specialized materials. We are focused on minimizing the capital cost of industrial scale pilot plants and the technical risks associated with scale-up —the single biggest barriers to commercialization.
Our low technical-risk strategy, along with the design commonalities our process shares with proven chemical or mineral-processing industries (such as pulp & paper), puts CE’s air capture system on the most direct path among competitors to commercialization and deployment at industrial scale.
CE’s business strategy is to integrate atmospheric CO2 into liquid fuel production, in order to leverage near-term premium-value markets for low carbon-intensity fuels.
Information about our business strategy is also available in PDF: CE - DAC and CCS Comparison for Low-Carbon Fuels.
There are several attractive ways in which CO2 can be captured from the atmosphere, and integrated into liquid fuel production to produce liquid hydrocarbons that are fully compatible with today’s transport infrastructure, but have a low (or even zero) carbon intensity.
- CO2 from the atmosphere can be supplied for enhanced oil recovery. Once the produced oil is refined and the fuel is burned, the life-cycle carbon intensity is still less than half of today’s conventional fuels.
- Atmospheric CO2 can be captured and supplied for algae growth in industrial-scale ponds. The algae can be processed and refined into bio-fuels.
- CO2 from the atmosphere can be captured and directly synthesized into liquid hydrocarbons. This approach allows centralized low-carbon head and power to be used for the fuel synthesis, and supplies high energy-density liquid fuels to the transportation sector with zero net CO2 emissions.
There is a growing market demand for liquid fuels with low life-cycle carbon-intensity. California now has a low carbon fuel standard in effect, and similar initiatives are under way in other states, British Columbia, and Europe. These regulations seek to cut CO2 emissions by incentivizing transport fuels that have low life-cycle carbon intensity with premium values. Effective carbon prices of over 100 $/ton-CO2 are developing in tightly regulated markets that do not allow conventional offsets such as emerging Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Air-capture may be allowed into these markets because it is a direct physical removal of CO2 that can be accurately quantified and integrated into the fuel production chain; if permitted, these markets represent compelling market opportunities for air capture.
CE’s business strategy is to monetize the value of low-carbon fuels in constrained markets, and to combine that with commodity revenue for industrial CO2, to finance profitable air capture projects.