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🌳 "8 DAC Companies to Watch in 2022"

Carbon Removal Newsroom

Photo by Jungwoo Hong / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Radhika Moolgavkar
Guests: Susan Su | Partner | TOBA Capital &
Na’im Merchant | Author | Carbon Curve
Category: 🌳 Carbon Capture

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:37] NM: “For years there have been three [...]  trailblazing incumbent players in the direct air capture space (Climeworks, Carbon Engineering, Global Thermostat), each […] hitting important inflection points recently. But what's been really exciting to me is to see new director capture companies emerge, and seeing […] universities and research institutions get funding for direct air capture. […] I think this is a defining decade for DAC, because it's a decade where direct air capture companies need to figure out how to improve performance, how to bring down costs, and how to responsibly deploy the technology.

[3:44] NM: “Something that I've noticed across a lot of organizations and companies is a focus on modular design. So they're thinking about manufacturing direct air capture units as opposed to constructing gigantic director capture plants, which I think is important in order for DAC to come down the cost curve.”

[4:30] SS: “I've been a longtime fan of Noya, just because I love the business model. It helps others win as they win and I like that it leverages existing infrastructure. […] I'm very intrigued by Carbon Capture, just because of the level of funding that's behind that one and also the team that's behind it. […] And then finally, I'm really intrigued by Verdox as well, just because it is very unique, truly breakthrough science. But the actual design of their mechanism is quite simple. And that enables it to be easier to scale. […] One thing in terms of what I look at more generally in all of these companies is what is the dumbest technology, what is the minimum viable technology we need to solve the problem.”

[6:49] NM: “Noya has developed a direct air capture approach that retrofits existing cooling towers. They'll find cooling towers on a lot of large buildings, and industrial buildings and instead of […] building a new direct air capture unit from scratch, [they] can retrofit an existing cooling tower. And what's interesting about that is […] it kind of creates a revenue stream for the business or the building […] and it brings down the kind of overall capital costs that are required to develop a direct capture installation.”

[8:16] NM: “I think what Verdox brings to the table is something that could be potentially […] game changing, or a paradigm shift in carbon capture technology. Because they […] use this electro swing technology, as opposed to […] a typical heat swing technology that you typically see in many direct air capture technologies. So when I visualize direct air capture energy requirements, I can compare DAC to a sponge […] that's collecting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And eventually that sponge gets saturated and you need to squeeze out the sponge. The process of squeezing out the sponge requires a lot of energy. So for many companies, that's applying a high degree of heat to […] the sponge that was used to capture CO2. And that requires more heat than renewable sources of energy, like solar or wind can deliver. And so these companies might need to use waste heat or fossil fuels to power that stage of the process and that can be a bottleneck to deployment. So when you can, like Verdox, use this electric swing adsorption technology that uses electricity to trigger a chemical reaction that makes it possible to use renewables like solar and wind energy input, [it] can really bring down the cost and make technology more scalable.”

[10:45] NM: “One area that I'm particularly interested in is DAC to concrete. We've seen a lot of […] companies like Carbon Cure, CarbonBuilt and others that infuse concrete with CO2. And so what that allows for is a company that's building a direct air capture unit that can site that directly attaching to that a concrete plant, and sell that CO2 to the concrete producer at the price that they would normally pay some external […] provider on the CO2 merchant market. And so that can take up some of the bridge cost […] for making CO2 available. So I think that could be an interesting way to […] bridge the gap [in] a situation where the price for carbon credits might be too high for consumers. And so, having that additional revenue stream, and it's still carbon removal, because the carbon that's captured by that director capture unit is infused in concrete and stays there permanently, allows you to have the revenue stream from the concrete producer alongside the carbon credit. And so […] instead of paying for the entire cost of removing carbon from the company standpoint or the buyer standpoint, you're doing it only […] partially because part of the cost is picked up by the concrete plant.”

[16:23] NM: “I think that there's a real issue, and we don't talk about it enough, in regards to […] carbon storage and transportation and some of that supporting infrastructure that's necessary to make something like direct air capture work […]. And, you know, I think that I did kind of look at it from a climate justice point of view, and that we kind of need to learn how to deploy direct air capture in a way that involves communities and engages communities in the process, while also […] being able to be deployed in a fairly streamlined manner. And figuring out that balance is going to be really, really hard. And I think that's where […] policy makers and, and community groups have an important role to play.”

[17:34] NM: “I think what we're seeing right now is that in the absence of clarity around infrastructure, around CO2 storage and transportation and not really knowing how to do this in a just way, some of these early stage direct air capture companies are partnering with concrete producers and concrete plants to be the provider of CO2. Because that's a way to lock up small volumes of CO2, get your early units of direct air capture into the world and still be able to claim carbon removal and earn some kind of carbon credit for that. I think that's the strategy that a lot of them will take in the absence of policy that we really need to see at the state and federal level around some of these infrastructure, challenges on storage and transportation, that I think importantly takes equity and justice into consideration.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 47 min | 🗓️ 01/28/2022
✅ Time saved: 45 min

Additional Links:
Article: “8 Unique Direct Air Capture Companies to Watch in 2022”