America’s first commercial carbon capture facility opens in California
“In an open-air warehouse in California’s Central Valley, 40-foot racks hold hundreds of trays filled with a white powder that turns crusty as it absorbs carbon dioxide from the sky,” a report states. The New York Times.
“The startup that built the facility, Heirloom Carbon Technologies, describes it as the first commercial plant in the United States to use direct air capture, which involves vacuuming greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.”
Another plant is operating in Iceland, and some scientists say the technology could be crucial in the fight against climate change. Legacy will take the carbon dioxide it pulls from the air and permanently store the gas in concrete, where it cannot heat the planet. To earn revenue, the company sells carbon removal credits to companies that pay a premium to offset their emissions. Microsoft has already signed a deal with Heirloom to remove 315,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The company’s first facility in Tracy, California, which opens Thursday, is a fairly small facility. The plant can absorb a maximum of 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the exhaust of about 200 cars. But Heirloom hopes to expand quickly. “We want to reach millions of tons annually,” said Shashank Samala, the company’s CEO. “This means copying and pasting that basic design over and over again.”
Heirloom’s technology is based on a simple bit of chemistry: Limestone, one of the most abundant rocks on the planet, forms when calcium oxide bonds with carbon dioxide. In nature, this process takes years. Legacy accelerates that. At the California plant, workers heat limestone to 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit in a kiln powered by renewable electricity. Carbon dioxide is released from the limestone and pumped into a tank. The remaining calcium oxide, which looks like flour, is then soaked in water and spread on large trays, which the robots carry on high-tower racks and exposed to the open air. Over the course of three days, the white powder absorbs carbon dioxide and turns into limestone again. Then it goes back to the oven and the cycle repeats. “That’s the beauty of this, it’s just rocks on trays,” said Samala, who co-founded Heirloom in 2020.
The hard part, he added, was years of tweaking variables like particle size, tray spacing and humidity to speed up absorption… In future projects, Heirloom also plans to pump carbon dioxide into underground storage wells, burying it.
The company has received funding from Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, according to Bloomberg, which adds that Heirloom’s technology will later be deployed “at a major center in Louisiana that the government expects will remove 1 million tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2020.” End of the contract.”
the The New York Times He points out that there is also federal funding, which has been fueling the ambitions of hundreds of carbon capture startups. “The science is clear,” says the US Secretary of Energy. “Reducing carbon emissions through renewable energy alone will not stop the damage caused by climate change. Direct air capture technology is a game-changer and gives us an opportunity to remove carbon pollution that has been accumulating in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.”