Our proven Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology can scale up to capture one million tons of CO₂ per year with each commercial facility. That quantity of CO₂ is equivalent to the annual emissions of 250,000 average cars.

What is DAC?

DAC is a technology that processes atmospheric air, removes CO2 and purifies it. CE’s DAC technology does this in a closed loop where the only major inputs are water and energy, and the output is a stream of pure, compressed CO₂. This captured, compressed CO₂ then offers a range of opportunities to create products and environmental benefits, including CE’s main focus, production of clean-burning liquid fuels with ultra-low carbon intensity.

At CE, we have been developing our DAC technology since 2009 and capturing CO2 from our pilot plant in Squamish, B.C. since 2015.

Why is DAC important?

Direct Air Capture is a flexible technology that can be used to achieve industrial-scale carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and can also enable production of clean-burning low carbon intensity fuels.

In recent years, climate modelers have agreed that to meet the temperature goals of the 2016 Paris Agreement, removal of existing CO2 from the atmosphere is necessary. Aggressive emissions reductions are imperative, and large-scale carbon removal is also required. Carbon Engineering’s DAC technology, when paired with the safe and permanent storage of CO2, can create physical, verifiable, “negative emissions” at industrial scale.

How can DAC be used?

Individual DAC plants can be placed in any country and in multiple climates, and can be built to capture one million tons of CO2 per year. At this large scale, our technology will be able to achieve costs of $100-150 USD per ton of CO₂ captured, purified, and compressed to 150 bar.

CE’s DAC plants, and the resulting captured CO2, offer a range of opportunities.

Permanent sequestration for negative emissions

The CO2 captured from DAC plants can be permanently stored underground to directly contribute to negative emissions required to reduce the effects of global climate change. If permanently sequestered, the CO2 from DAC plants will be eligible for credits including California’s Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS) credits.

Synthesis of clean transportation fuels

The CO2 and carbon credits produced by a DAC plant can be used to produce ultra-low carbon intensity transportation fuels at an affordable price point using CE’s AIR TO FUELS™ technology. These synthetic fuels are drop-in compatible with today’s engines and infrastructure, and can significantly reduce emissions from the transportation sector by displacing fossil fuels.

Production of materials

Captured atmospheric CO2 can be used to produce materials such as steel, concrete, fillers, and coatings, or to produce chemicals such as plastics, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, and carbonates.

Enhanced Oil Recovery

DAC plants are location-independent and so can be co-located with an oilfield operator for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The benefits of this configuration are two-fold – the operator is provided with pipeline purity compressed CO2 at point of demand to facilitate oil production, while at the same time, crude oil (and refined fuels) are produced that have ultra-low life-cycle carbon intensity.

CE is actively seeking strategic partners to build full-scale commercial DAC facilities, and customers interested in supply agreements for our ultra-low carbon fuel.

Carbon Engineering Pilot Plant Plumbing

Our Team

CE has the single largest and most experienced technical team in the air capture field.

How does DAC work?

Our DAC technology is protected by eight core patent families. It has been built upon established industrial equipment and techniques, augmented by our own innovations and IP throughout. Our DAC system has four major unit operations that create a closed chemical loop. The system continuously captures CO₂ from atmospheric air and delivers a purified compressed stream of CO₂, using only water and energy as inputs.

  • Step 1: Air contactor

    Our DAC process starts with a “wet scrubbing” air contactor which uses a strong hydroxide solution to capture CO₂ and convert it into carbonate. This occurs within a structure modelled on industrial cooling tower design.

  • Step 2: Pellet reactor

    Our second step is called a “pellet reactor” which converts the carbonate solution into small pellets of calcium carbonate. This calcium carbonate, once dried, is then processed in our third step.

  • Step 3: Calciner

    A circulating fluid bed calciner heats the calcium carbonate pellets to decomposition temperature, breaking them apart to release the CO₂ as a gas and leave behind solid lime or calcium oxide.

  • Step 4: Slaker

    The calcium oxide is hydrated in our fourth step, which is called a slaker, and is then returned into the pellet reactor to regenerate the hydroxide capture solution, closing the chemical loop.

In our baseline design, our calciner is heated by oxy-fired natural gas, so the calciner contains CO₂ originally captured from air, CO₂ from natural gas combustion, and water vapour. This allows us to avoid emission of CO₂ from the natural gas usage, instead delivering that stream along with the atmospheric CO₂ as the plant output. CE also has DAC configurations capable of reducing or completely eliminating the use of natural gas, instead relying on clean electricity as the sole energy input.

More process details are available in our papers and publications, but this overall DAC approach pairs a wet scrubbing air contactor with a calcium re-generation cycle similar to what is used by the pulp and paper industry. The industrial precedent behind our choices of equipment and process chemistry means that we have a scaleable, low-risk air capture technology that is now ready for commercial deployment.

Above: CE’s Direct Air Capture process, showing the major unit operations – air contactor, pellet reactor, slaker, and calciner – which collectively capture, purify, and compress atmospheric CO2

Learn about AIR TO FUELS™.

Pilot Plant rendering
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About the CE Team

CE has the largest and most experienced technical and commercial teams in the air capture field.

News and Updates

Read recent updates on our technical developments and progress at Carbon Engineering.