Bloomberg Green: Can Carbon Capture Reverse Climate Change?
This week reversing the carbon clock new technology could turn back time on CO2 emissions. But what exactly is carbon capture and how does it work. Instead of letting it go in the atmosphere we intercepted and capture from the smokestacks or sometimes we change the process to minimize what's coming out since gas bio char and air vodka. We speak to the startups taking carbon capture tech Main Street in 2050. I'm convinced that all Fortune 500 companies will be using carbon removal in order to achieve
their net zero targets and scaling up the solution. As energy prices soar across the globe why does carbon capture become cost effective. No one is planning to just spend a lot of money on the investment that it would take to do carbon capture at scale. From Bloomberg's world headquarters in New York I'm Kelly Lines and this is Bloomberg Green. Last week we spoke about the IPCC report's findings of irreversible climate change. But what if we could reverse the root cause of global warming. In this edition of Bloomberg Green we delve into the idea that
may just make that possible. Carbon capture carbon dioxide pollution from humans mostly burning fossil fuels and clearing forests is the main driver of global warming. CO2 levels are 50 percent higher than pre-industrial levels. And the last time they were this high some 3 million years ago the world was a very different place. But technologies that capture and store carbon from the atmosphere could be a potential solution. So coming up we'll speak with the CEOs of four startups each with their own approach to capturing storing and using excess carbon. Then
we'll appraise the used cases of these techniques and at what cost they become viable. But first an explanation. What exactly is carbon capture and what are some of the different processes by which it can be accomplished. Our reporter Ryan Haskin explains.
Since the industrial revolution humanity has treated the atmosphere as one giant carbon dump. But our carelessness is coming back to bite. Every day we burn more fossil fuels pumping billions of tons of greenhouse gases into well already saturated. And wouldn't it be nice if instead of releasing this waste we could catch it storing and maybe even use it instead of
letting it go in the atmosphere we intercepted and capture from the smokestacks. Or sometimes we each change the process to minimize what's coming out. And then once we capture that CO2 we have to do something with it. So a lot of times were transported in a pipe and stored in a deep geologic formations. We take fossil fuels out of the ground burn and then put the CO2 back into the ground. Howard is an M.I.T. professor who's been working on carbon capture and storage CCF for sure for more than
20 years. So how do you take a waste substance and capture it keeping it out of our atmosphere. The one that used most is called chemical scrubbing where you take the exhaust gas from these processes. When you put it through a small chemical plant where you take a chemical and you contacted with the flu gas it will remove the CO2 from their gas. Now you can put the gas back up the smokestack that contains very little CO2. Then you take the chemical that absorbed the CO2 you regenerated. So it releases a CO2 ISE CO2 in a pretty pure for CPS isn't limited to just removing carbon from the fuel we burn. Now it can also draw down historic emissions. Techniques include the processes Howard mentioned but also planting trees and changing agricultural
practices. No one technology will reign supreme but taken together they could have a significant impact. The question it really is how you know how big are they you know in terms of scalability and how much land can you use where they are. And also of the most negative emissions is pretty expensive. The only other thing about negative emissions is say you plan to force take CO2 out of the air. It's stored in the forest. How permanent is this that will therefore be maintained for the decades or centuries. You need to do it with a few technologies and a lot more trees. We could capture a significant portion of
the carbon we emit as well as begin clawing back our historic emissions. But once we have trillions of tons of captured carbon what do we do with it. Right now the main thing is transported the most efficient way to transport it with significant quantities of pipeline certain places our local ship transport such as the North Sea area of Europe. They have a project looking at transporting it by ship and then putting it in geologic formations. There is space to very much of the world's emissions but is there a better way. Can this carbon become a useful resource even though there's carbon and carbon dioxide that can go into say different types of materials. There's not the energy. And to put the energy back into it you're going to
use fossil fuels that you're just going to create more CO2. If you have a lot of renewable energy do it. You can maybe do that. CBS is now widely recognized as one of humanity's tools in the fight against climate change. It's being supported by governments across the world and big industry players like Shell and Total Energy Use are funding projects but its impacts at present are limited due to the massive amount of carbon already stored in the atmosphere and the billions of tons we continue to release every year. Any investment now is a risk but the potential payoff could be huge. Ryan has to get there running us through some of the basics of carbon capture. So now let's get to the business trying to make it into a reality. Klein works as a pioneer in direct carbon
capture sucking CO2 from the air and storing it underground. Its facility in Iceland Orca is the largest of its kind and captures 4000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. That may only be equivalent to the annual emissions of two hundred and fifty U.S. residents. But it's a powerful proof of concept. I spoke to the CEO of Klein Works Christoph Bald about how that technology works. Eric CAC capture is essentially building machines very large machines that are sucking in air and taking the CO2 out of the air and let all the other components go through the machine and then provide the CO2 for usage or underground storage. So what exactly happens to that CO2 once it's captured. What does it become.
The focus of clamor is to take the CO2 that we're capturing from the earth and subsequently provide it for underground storage. We are currently doing that in Iceland with a facility that we're calling Orica where we do have a partnership with another company that is called Can't Fix who aren't responsible to store the CO2 in the ground. And once this you two is in the ground in Iceland the CO2 is mineralized. We're in very simple words. We are turning the CO2 into stone in the underground as we look toward the future and and a push not just on the part of businesses but governments around the world to reach net zero. Is there are still going to be adequate demand for the kinds of products and services you are offering for carbon removal. If we have a world that is more focused on cleaner energy and a lower carbon footprint.
Both go. Both have to go hand-in-hand. Like today. I always like to say as of 20 22 you're not allowed to use the word or when it comes to climate change mitigation. You're only allowed to use the word and you have to reduce and you have to remove. You have to do both. A net zero target entails both like reduction as well as removal. For example they a very renowned and prominent science based target initiative where they say that roughly 90 to 95 percent of the job can be done with reduction and 5 to 10 percent can be done with carbon removal. Now as to your question will be sufficient demand there. We are currently emitting 40 to
50 giga tons of CO2 annually. Right. So we have to bring those 40 to 50 gigatons to a zero and then after we have to add another 10 to 15 gigatons of negative emissions. And like looking at those numbers and multiplying them with a 5 or 10 percent that a claim for removal will yield a tremendous market like the market for that. And 30 years down the road is equivalent to the size of today's oil and gas operations. So some people title what we are doing will be in 30 years from now oil and gas and resource play ball. They're the CEO of Clime Works.
So up next we'll hear from the CEOs of dimensional energy and the air company which are both turning carbon into something useful but in drastically different ways. That is one very green. And from Bloomberg's global headquarters in New York I'm Jennifer's office sergeant and here is all the climate news you need to know this week. First off the U.K. government is considering changes that allow for new permits for oil and gas in the North Sea. An exemption could be made for energy security as Europe is urgently looking for alternatives to Russian oil as well as expanding domestic oil and gas production. The UK government is looking to accelerate alternate energy including onshore wind power and nuclear power. Also rapid neue also known as Easter Island is at risk from climate change. The 14 mile Long Island that's famous for its stone statues is dealing with a lack of rain as temperatures heat up. And rising sea levels in
the Pacific the people living on the remote Polynesian island contribute basically nothing to carbon emissions but face an uncertain future. And finally President Obama's next act in retirement will be acting as a national parks champion on Netflix. He will narrate a nature documentary for the streamer featuring the world's wild spaces. The Obama administration put more than 550 million acres of land and water under permanent protection during his presidency. And that is your green brief.
Definitely something that we saw former President Obama do during his time in office. Taking it to the streaming world right now and expanding his audience a little bit really just continuing that work and doing so. And almost David Attenborough style. Style. And of course we've seen other big figures signing their own deals with Netflix the likes of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also doing this kind of work. But clearly the former president focused on the climate. Thank you so much to Jennifer Zappa's mojo with this week's Green Brief. So let's take a look at another question. How can carbon capture lower the emissions of the airline industry. A startup called Dimensional Energy plans to use sunlight and capture CO2 to
power plants. It's a greener alternative to jet fuel and an innovative way to reduce emissions in a sector responsible for 2 percent of annual CO2 production. Our reporter Sarah Rappaport has more on this. Startups sky high ambitions. Dimensional Energy is a small startup with big ambitions. Our company is transforming carbon dioxide into sustainable aviation fuels. That CEO Jason Selfie. His company's mission is to transform the world's most energy intensive industries to zero
emissions by 2050. We started the company in 2016 with a focus on utilization of carbon dioxide. My co-founders and I were discussing some of the gaps in the challenge to mitigating climate change. But how does that work. Exactly what it does at a basic level. It takes carbon dioxide and water and transforms them. That can be captured from the air or from a point source. We take those two materials and we push them through our reactor which is comprised of catalysts. And a really interesting form of reactor undergoes a chemical process that transforms those two molecules into a synthetic fuel. By 2025 the company hopes to have a platform that can produce fuel for less than a dollar per gallon. If successful that means
the carbon heavy aviation business can adopt carbon neutral fuels. But they're not there yet. Or rather new companies. So we're starting out with a we have a five gallon per day demonstration in Tucson Arizona right now that we're getting ready to commission. And then we're looking at several barrel per day facility over the next year that we're in talks with strategic partners on. And our goal is to have 100 barrel per day facility demonstration facility in 2025. Be a big change for
an emissions heavy industry. If carbon capture proves to be reliable and cost effective. That was our Sara Rappaport on dimensional energy. So let's go from airplanes to air vodka. Air companies chief product was called one of Time magazine's best inventions of 2020. Simply put they are taking CO2 out of the air and turning it into alcohol for human consumption during the pandemic. They also started to produce hand sanitizer. So I spoke to the CEO Gregory Konstantin about why it was so important to use carbon capture and making consumer products. We take carbon dioxide which is you know is the most abundant greenhouse gas on the planet was climate change. And we turned it into two carbon negative
alcohols and fuels. You know we take the CO2 out of the air before it's report submitted to the atmosphere. And today it's reported that you see today. Well and among those products perfume hand sanitizer vodka. Why focus on consumer goods. Yeah we think that consumer goods are one of the best educational tools to show the world and to show people that that you can use technology and creativity. And when you blend those two things together you can create real impact by creating consumer products products that people can touch and hold and taste and feel. It becomes reality and the technology behind it becomes a reality to people. So there are great educational tool for people to show the world what's possible with technology
like this. And where do you expand in the future maybe beyond consumer goods. Yes. So companies focus on consumer goods in the short term or on a pathway towards you know true scale and real scale towards kind of industrial applications of things such as the fuels that I mentioned as well. So as we scale up our technology it becomes more readily available and we'll be working on applications for things like sustainable aviation fuel where you can really create a true impact that scale. Well anything you say on your Web site if you're technology was scaled across all possible verticals you wouldn't admit a great amount of global carbon dioxide emissions. Can you just talk to me more about the numbers and metrics surrounding that. Yeah I think we'd actually be able to emit over removal you know
stop or hinder you know over 10 percent annual CO2 emissions globally. If our technology was applied to every industry vertical that it could be that for one single technology. So you're talking about billions of billions of tons of CO2 utilized on an annual basis. Now for us we hope that we can be a part of the soul of the challenge. And the goal needs to be a massive goal like that. And we need to have a big challenge like that ahead of you so that you can strive towards that. You can inspire others to strive towards things like that as well. Coming up changing the culture when it comes to CO2 emissions.
How one Helsinki startup has hit on a new solution for carbon capture. And we'll dive into just how cost effective all of these technologies are next. This is Bloomberg Green. From Bloomberg's world headquarters in New York I'm Kelly Lines and this is Bloomberg Green. Now let's get to our final startup.
Henrietta Moon leads carbo culture at Helsinki based company focusing on scaling what it calls a brand new carbon capture technology drawing direct inspiration from the natural world. We spoke to her about what makes her business different. Most life on earth is carbon and it's our fourth most abundant element. So it's not bad per say. We just have it in the wrong place in too much scale. So we need to think of the most elegant way to actually bring down that carbon from the atmosphere and
put it to use somewhere where we can use it better. This challenge is at the core of Kabul culture's mission. The Helsinki based startup is focused on solving the Earth's carbon problem while offering a viable business model one that didn't even exist at the beginning of her career. I ended up in this crazy program that was three months intense program at NASA Ames in California and that's where I met my co-founder Chris Carstens. Back then there was no price on carbon emission trading was at maybe five euros a tonne and nobody was really interested in pursuing that as a business model. We got started properly in 2017. Today the carbon market is trading at over 10 times that. So times have changed. Every year nature draws down carbon in the form of photosynthesis into all our biomass trees and plantations and crops and everything you see. But naturally
when that biomass like the trees die they decompose and re-enter the atmosphere again. And that's the natural carbon cycle. I've come back after we were trying to figure out what is the most elegant way to actually draw down some of this carbon. And instead of trying to invent machines to take out parts per million from the atmosphere we decided that millions of years of nature already knows how to do it. So if you see a forest today and in five hundred years it'll essentially be the same size. It's not going to 10x its carbon removal capacity or grow 10 times larger. So we have these solar powered allies who use photosynthesis and turn this carbon from the atmosphere into biomass and we take that biomass such as nut shells or peach pits or a tree waste. And we put it into our patented reactor and we rapidly take it to ultra high heat where it carbon rises. It doesn't decompose. It's not eaten by microbes or anything. And we can store it safely in the soil.
Their first facility resides in California which operates as a proof of concept to demonstrate the process. Basically we put biomass in there and we put them inside. We take them to ultra high temperature about a thousand degrees Celsius for a split second. And in that time the biomass carbon rises. So it turns into a charcoal like forum. You can mix it into compost or put it in the soil or use it for water filtration or just buried in the ground in an old mineshaft or something. Now that they've mastered the concept it's really just a matter of scaling it up by a factor of a million or so. If we put a
million of these systems around the world we can actually use part of the energy in the biomass itself to power these systems. And in this way we're helping the green transition of the grid instead of hindering it. This next scale of scale would remove about 13000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. So I'll make a few thousand tons of bio carbon. And that's a big step for us
though carbon culture has recently raised six point two million dollars in seed financing. It will take a lot more funding to get carbon culture's vision to scale. This Herculean effort will require investments from both public and private sectors. And now that carbon capture programs like this are beginning to get traction Henrietta welcomes the competition. If we look at the
big picture we have a North Star mission of a guy gets on a removal which is 1 billion tons and it's a real insanity target. It's definitely not easy. It's light years away from where we are today. But for us it means that we also need to get to that kind of a scale. And that's probably going to be 10 to 100 companies like us in maybe a decade from now that we'll be trying to get to that gargantuan scale that is needed. Look at carbon culture there. Now let's dig into these technologies with Bloomberg's climate change and renewables.
REPORTER Well math is to discuss carbon capture and carbon pricing. So well first let's start out with what's the most commercially viable carbon capture technology out there at the moment. Well I mean probably none of them are commercially viable. You know no one is planning to just spend a lot of money on the investment that it would take to do carbon capture at scale. But the ones that are being pursued and supported by European governments with billions of dollars of
subsidies are the kind of traditional carbon capture which basically just traps all the emissions from existing factories or plants and takes all those emissions and just pipes them underground to be stored in this case where they're being pursued at scale under the North Sea in reservoirs that you know previously held fossil fuels. If it's not commercial viability then what is the use case of carbon capture technology right now. Well there are certain industrial processes that just produce emissions. You know if you make cement there's really no way to produce cement which is one of the most important building materials in the world without producing CO2 emissions. So if it's your government policy to eliminate those emissions then there's really no
choice but to trap the emissions with carbon capture. And so they're there. And if you want to do it even quicker than maybe you can't wait for technologies in other sectors that could potentially decarbonise. So if you want to cut emissions really quickly you can use these capture technologies to to trap all the gases and just keep them keep them out of the atmosphere. All right. Well Mathis Bloomberg climate change and Renewable Energy reporter thank you so much for joining us. Well carbon capture is not a silver bullet to fix climate change but with a variety of solutions. It could become a key tool in restricting global warming and leading the world's net zero
targets. That wraps it up for this week's episode. But you can keep the conversation going by following us on YouTube Instagram and Twitter at climate. From Bloomberg's global headquarters in New York. I'm Kitty Lines and this is Bloomberg Real Yield.