To halt global warming, net-zero emissions need to be achieved by mid-century. This means that any remaining emissions must be offset by carbon capture. To meet these lofty goals, some countries must remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit. In the long run, the entire world will have to become net negative.
Last year, the US Department of Energy announced a five-year, $3.5 billion project to build four regional Direct Air Capture (DAC) centers in order to accelerate commercialization of technology that absorbs and permanently stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Climeworks in Switzerland and Heirloom in California have teamed up with Battelle to compete for a $500 million US grant to commercialize carbon-capture technology. A hub must expand to sequester one million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year to get $500 million.
Shawn Bennett, Battelle's energy and resilience manager, believes that private sector effort, unprecedented federal funding and scientific validation has created a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to execute the technology. Battelle has already done extensive work with carbon capture technology, as well as managing government labs and centers.
If the hub is selected, Gulf Coast Sequestration, a geologic storage company, would permanently store captured carbon underground in southern Louisiana.
Climeworks manages Iceland's largest DAC project, sucking up about 4,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, a drop in the bucket compared to the International Energy Agency's estimated 36.8 billion tonnes of energy-related CO2 emissions for 2022, while Heirloom has a modest California demonstration project.
Meanwhile, other projects aiming to remove carbon on a larger scale may seek government funding.
Last year, Occidental Petroleum planned a $1.1 billion investment in a Texas Permian area oil facility to operate in 2024. A California company announced plans to develop the first large-scale DAC project in Wyoming to capture and store 5 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030.
By mid-century, carbon removal must be deployed at the gigaton, or billion-tonne, scale to sequester the emissions from 250 million vehicles driven in a year, according to the Department of Energy.
Deriving Value From Emissions
Another company focused on removing emissions from the atmosphere is Ontario-based tech company Pond Technologies (TSX.V:POND) (OTCQB:PNDHF). Pond has created a proprietary technology that may profitably convert CO2 into valuable products like food, animal feed, and nutraceutical substances. The company recently established a Biotech division devoted to the cultivation of unique strains of microalgae for use as a reproductive medium for the development of human antibodies and proteins
Pond Technologies is working on producing spirulina and other algae-based animal feed ingredients using CO2 emissions to address global sustainability challenges of protein shortages and climate change, offering sustainable options for animal feed, including aquaculture.
Pond is working with Livalta, an AB Agri company, and subsidiary of Associated British Foods on a pioneering global partnership to produce commercial algae-based animal feed ingredients from CO2 emissions. Effectively, the technology is designed to take CO2 emissions out of the air to produce high value protein. The first product will be spirulina. On December 21, 2022, Pond announced that the algae lab, inclusive of Pond-designed algae bioreactors, has been successfully installed on site at AB Agri’s British Sugar plant in the United Kingdom.
While Pond is progressing with building the pilot plant, the company is now embarking on building the science behind the product, complementing the existing trial library in animal feed. A recent study from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) used the same strain of spirulina that Pond and Livalta intend to cultivate and results suggest that a diet including up to 20% spirulina biomass has similar essential amino acid and essential fatty acid digestibility as a conventional farmed salmon diet.
Compared to other aquatic and terrestrial animals, Atlantic salmon farming is the most effective at converting feed to protein, yet the sector is dependent on high value proteins such as fishmeal that each have their challenges in terms of sustainability and quality or reliability of supply. Spirulina, a microalgae with up to 65% high value protein produced using carbon dioxide emissions and in a controlled process with high quality standards could be a solution to those problems.
For more information on Pond Technologies (TSX.V:POND) (OTCQB:PNDHF), please visit this link.
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