A Boost for Direct Air Capture

Johnny Wentzel
DAC facility mock up
Courtesy of Bloomberg

The Biden administration is doubling down on a new climate tech and there’s as much anticipation as there is for Taylor Swift’s next Eras Tour ticket sale.

What happened: The US Department of Energy recently revealed plans to invest $1.2 billion into two direct air capture (DAC) hubs in Louisiana and Texas.

  • DAC is process of removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere by using fit-for-purpose fans and filters to separate out the carbon dioxide from ambient air.

The projects are first-of-their-kind attempts to prove out the technology at scale. Combined, the hubs are expected to remove over 500 times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the world’s current largest commercial project in Iceland.

DAC Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version)

Not everyone is happy about the announcement of unprecedented funding into DAC.

Critics are labeling to the move by the DOE as “greenwashing”, saying DAC gives a loophole for oil and gas companies and other heavy emitters to continue with a business-as-usual, reactive approach to emissions reduction, rather than a proactive, long-term solution.

  • Some environmental experts would rather see funding placed into clean and renewable energy sources rather than an emissions reduction technology that is unproven at scale and would allow heavy industries to emit more or less unchecked.

Zoom out: The Biden administration has a goal of using DAC to capture one million tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030, equivalent to taking about 200,000 cars off the road. It’s a respectable goal, but experts have suggested that the technology must be able to handle several billion tons of per year in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

There’s a long road ahead for DAC, but with investment pouring in, it seems like the technology is… Ready For It?