Can Direct Air Capture Deliver?
As money pours into the space, questions arise about whether the method of removing carbon from the atmosphere is the best investment.
Carbon removal is one, if not the, hottest topic in today’s battle over correcting the global course of climate change, and direct air capture (DAC) is the current darling of the carbon removal space.
DAC works to gather CO2 directly from the atmosphere with an engineered system, like how trees absorb CO2 for photosynthesis, only faster and with a smaller, but manmade, overall footprint.
Popular systems use chemical reactions to extract CO2 from the captured air. Once captured, the CO2 is compressed and stored in geological formations deep in the ground, or in some cases, used to produce low-carbon-intensity products like diesel or aviation fuel. The rest of the captured air is returned to the atmosphere.
The Biden administration has put its weight behind the expansion of DAC facilities in the US. The recent Inflation Reduction Act included tax credits for DAC CO2 as well as broadening the eligibility of qualified DAC facilities. It decreases the amount of CO2 capture requirements from 100,000 tonnes per year to just 1,000.
In addition, the US Department of Energy (DOE) recently awarded up to $1.2 billion for a pair of DAC facilities in Texas and Louisiana.