From our headquarters in Squamish, B.C., Canada, we have successfully developed and demonstrated our Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology at pilot scale and have been capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air since 2015.
CE recently raised US$68 million of private investment, which is moving us ahead with the engineering of our first commercial DAC facility. With our partner, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, LLC (OLCV), a subsidiary of Occidental, we are jointly proceeding with the engineering and design of the world’s largest DAC facility. This facility will capture an expected one million tons of CO2 directly from the atmosphere each year to be stored underground permanently in the Permian Basin, U.S. The CO2 will be utilized in OLCV’s enhanced oil recovery operations to produce carbon neutral crude and to provide negative emissions for interested companies and organizations to address their carbon footprint.
This project is in parallel to the work CE is conducting in other markets, and we are continuing to progress opportunities for further DAC and AIR TO FUELSTM plants in several locations in Canada, the US, and Europe.
While policy support for DAC has been limited in the past, this is starting to change. Leading jurisdictions, like California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and the EU have implemented effective market-based policies to reduce greenhouse gases and promote clean energy, and these regulations are creating viable first markets for our DAC technology.
A leading example is California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard that awards credits for the production of ultra-low carbon transportation fuels, and for projects anywhere in the world that permanently store atmospheric CO2 underground. The availability of these types of effective market-based credit programs makes the economics of DAC viable today, and as these policies continue to spread and tighten around the globe, we see DAC technology as having significant potential for widespread global deployment.
In 2015, CE constructed an end-to-end DAC pilot plant in Squamish, B.C., Canada. Pilot scale equipment for all of the four core modules within our DAC technology – the air contactor, pellet reactor, slaker, and oxy-fired calciner – was designed with our vendors and partners to accurately replicate the performance of commercial-scale modules. We are still operating this DAC pilot for extended testing and optimization efforts, and when running, the plant captures and purifies roughly 1 ton of CO2 per day.
In 2017, CE incorporated fuel synthesis capability into the DAC pilot plant in Squamish, B.C., creating the world’s first AIR TO FUELSTM pilot based entirely on industrially-scalable technologies. This allowed us to produce liquid fuels on site from CO2 captured from the air, and will enable continued testing and refining of the fuel synthesis process. When operating, the pilot produces roughly 1 barrel of fuel per day, which undergoes quality testing with our partner organizations.
Today, CE is running a commercial validation project concurrently with the design and engineering work for our first commercial plant. This project involves the development of an Innovation Centre in Squamish, B.C. that will fully integrate our DAC and AIR TO FUELSTM processes. This centre will be CE’s permanent R&D and advanced development headquarters where the team will continue to optimize and innovate our technologies. CE will use data from our pilot plant, as well as the Innovation Centre, to complete the engineering design for the subsequent full-scale commercial facilities that CE aims to deploy globally.
In 2021, we expect construction to begin on our first industrial-scale plants. As well as our one megatonne DAC plant in the Permian Basin, we envision deploying first projects in leading markets such as British Columbia and California where existing Low Carbon Fuel Standards favour permanent sequestration of atmospheric CO2 and clean fuels such as CE’s. As global markets move to cut emissions and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, we see an immense opportunity to deploy DAC and AIR TO FUELSTM facilities around the world to both deliver clean fuels for transportation, and help drive emissions to zero through the permanent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.