The United States opens the first facility to absorb carbon dioxide from the air

“We want to reach millions of tons annually.”

Self storage

For the first time, a commercial facility that can capture carbon from the air and store it underground has opened in the United States.

In a press release, the team behind Heirloom Carbon Technologies said its newly opened direct air capture (DAC) facility near San Francisco will be able to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it securely underground in concrete for paying customers.

Although dozens of carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities have been operating around the world for more than a decade, the majority of CCS plants are involved in capturing and storing new emissions from other polluting processes such as coal mining, resulting in… Next: A technology called “clean coal” that experts and activists say it is not.

Meanwhile, direct air capture sucks ambient carbon from the air without any other industrial process besides. In Heirloom’s case, it is stored in what the company insists are secure underground concrete warehouses.

as The New York Times Heirloom acknowledges in its reports on the new plant that Heirloom’s first facility in Tracy, California, is very small and only capable of capturing 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air annually — although CEO and co-founder Shashank Samala points out in the press release, This number has risen from one kilogram of carbon dioxide to one million, or 1,000 metric tons, in just over two years.

“We want to reach millions of tons annually,” Samala said. now. “This means copying and pasting that basic design over and over again.”

Credit is due

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Granholm, the head of the Biden administration’s Department of Energy, went to the Golden State’s Central Valley during the Heirloom plant’s unveiling last week to praise it as a “blueprint” for the White House’s current energy reduction plans. US carbon emissions.

Perhaps the biggest value proposition for companies like Heirloom — and their wealthy backers, including the likes of Microsoft and Shopify — is that they will sell “carbon removal credits” to companies looking to offset their emissions, a high-tech iteration of popular reforestation campaigns in which companies pledge to plant a batch of trees. As compensation for pollution without actually reducing it.

While it’s certainly a good thing that companies like Heirloom are being built all over the planet in efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, critics say those in the business of selling carbon credits are giving companies a clean-conscious “license to pollute” because they are After all, they offset their emissions by paying someone else to suck them out of the air.

Ultimately, direct air capture still seems like a step ahead of traditional carbon capture schemes now – although if companies and governments want to get serious about cutting their emissions, they need to actually do it.

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