David Keith, a Harvard University physicist, has found that their pilot energy plant can drive the cost of creating an alternative fuel downwards, according to the Science Magazine.
Keith’s company, Carbon Engineering, has been focusing on creating solutions for combating climate change for the past three years. Their solution was to use direct air capture (DAC), which uses giant fans “to blow air through a solution that contains a CO2-capturing chemical”. Once the chemical has been processed, the CO2 is then “injected underground or used to make commercial products, such as fuels or plastics.”
In 2011, the American Physical Society estimated the recycling cost to be about $600 per ton of CO2.
After three years of research on DAC using a pilot plant in British Columbia, Canada, Keith and his colleagues collected enough data to project the plant’s efficiency. They reported that the expected cost of capturing CO2 would be between $94 and $232 per ton.
Keith’s team estimates that the market demand for DAC plants “would likely drive costs down further”, as places such as California are increasingly using low-carbon fuel.
Climate scientist at Stanford University, Chris Field, cautions that fighting back climate change will take more than DAC technology. “There is a long way to go to see whether it will have any large-scale impact,” he claims.