Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution title=
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution
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By Robert Bernstein

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its latest report emphasizing the urgency of the Climate Crisis. Scientists have been warning of disaster for decades and the result has been endless delay and inaction. The longer we delay, the more expensive are the solutions and the more catastrophic are the impacts.

A company called Carbon Engineering is working on one piece of solving this crisis by actually removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere by Direct Air Capture. Their representative Lori Guetre gave an informative talk recently to the Science and Engineering Council of Santa Barbara all about this.

Here Lori Guetre has kindly shared her slides for us.

Guetre started with a background on how we got to the current crisis. Fossil fuels are cheap and abundant.

I learned in my physics training to look at these situations in orders of magnitude terms. Fossil fuels are the accumulation of 100 million years worth of carbon compounds in dead living things. We have burned them and put that 100 million years of carbon in the atmosphere in the course of just 100 years. What could possibly go wrong?

People think of the Earth as so huge that humans cannot have much effect. But the atmosphere is not huge. Think of the skin of an apple. Our atmosphere is 20 times thinner than that relative to the Earth.

Scientists have known for decades that the safe limit for carbon in the atmosphere is about 350 parts per million (ppm). We have already passed that limit.

We have only seven years left in the "carbon budget" to avoid a level of 450ppm which would cause a two degree Celsius rise in global temperature.

The IPCC has said that halting dumping more carbon into the atmosphere is no longer enough. We have to actively remove what we have already dumped there.

How big is the challenge that we are facing? Goldman Sachs offers a "Carbon Abatement Curve" that is her favorite demonstration of the facts.What is needed to get to "Net Zero" added carbon to the atmosphere? As shown in that graphic, some solutions are cheap and easy. Some even have a negative cost as they save money. Solar and wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels in many applications.

But to get to that last bit of carbon is very expensive. The last bit can cost over $1,000 per ton of CO2 to eliminate. Burning a gallon of gasoline produces over 20 pounds of CO2. At this rate, it would cost $10 to eliminate the equivalent of burning that gallon of gasoline.

The area under that curve now represents about 8% of the world's GDP. That is unaffordable. Yet the problem has to be solved or the price is even more unaffordable.

Direct Air Capture (DAC) of carbon from the atmosphere is essential.

Apollo 13 is Guetre's favorite movie. The engineers are heroes. They had to remove CO2 to survive. They came up with an air scrubber. This is done in submarines, too.

But using traditional techniques costs $600 per ton of CO2. We need to get this down to $100.

Carbon Engineering is partnering with Occidental Petroleum to build plants to remove millions of tons a year; the first plant will be operational by 2024.

What to do with the carbon that is captured? Guetre estimated that over 10 billion tons per year of carbon can be put to industrial use. To make synthetic fuels or to mix into concrete or use in other construction materials.

But about 36 billion tons per year could go into stable geological formations for permanent storage.

She went into some detail on the chemistry and logistics of the process. They want to make modular systems that are on the order of about one million tons of CO2 removal per year for each module. There is a potassium loop and a calcium loop.

They did not want to have to start from scratch with new technology. Instead, they are using four key building blocks that already exist on that scale for their modules. Using off the shelf building blocks is essential to scaling up this process to remove vast amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere.

First is an Air Contactor that brings in air; this is taken from existing industrial cooling towers. Atmospheric CO2 is captured using an aqueous solution of potassium hydroxide.

Next is a Pellet Reactor that comes from water treatment technology. CaCO3 pellets are precipitated out of the solution, and the KOH solution returns to pick up more atmospheric CO2

Third, a Calciner that releases the CO2 from the calcium carbonate. These units already exist for mining and ore processing.

Finally, a Slaker is used to re-hydrate the CaO, completing the calcium loop.  Slakers are standard equipment for converting calcium oxide to calcium hydroxide.

Here you can find more detailed information about this process.

What does she mean about making synthetic fuels? Well, people have been advocating using biofuels for many years as a way to remove carbon from the atmosphere and then create liquid fuels that can be burned in planes, trains and automobiles.

But "natural" biofuels are very inefficient in many ways. They use large amounts of land and water and mean competition between biofuel crops and food crops.

The trademarked "Air to Fuels" project of Carbon Engineering claims to have 100 times less land and water consumption than biofuels to achieve the same result.

This would use solar photovoltaic and wind power to fuel their machines. They would combine "clean" hydrogen produced from this clean energy with CO2 taken out of the atmosphere.The resulting fuel is drop-in compatible for use in airplanes and other transportation that needs liquid fuels. Such fuel has an energy density 30 times higher than the best batteries. This density is essential for such applications as aviation where weight is so important.

The idea is to place these Direct Air Capture plants in places that are optimum for wind and solar energy. The fuel is then easily transported using existing fuel distribution systems. Unlike existing fossil liquid fuels, these synthetic fuels would have no contamination with sulfur or other pollutants.

This chart shows how Direct Air Capture saves three trillion dollars a year vs known alternatives to reducing CO2 emissions. This assumes a cost of $150/ton for Direct Air Capture. It gets better as that cost goes down.For me, the elephant in the room is who is going to pay for this? California is one of the few states that has a government mandate to reduce carbon emissions.

Guetre claims that there are voluntary actions already happening in private industry. Bill Gates is already paying for Direct Air Capture to offset his personal carbon emissions as well as planning to expand that to all of Microsoft.

She said that Shopify is also voluntarily buying carbon removal to offset their carbon emissions.

Her view is that voluntary actions like these will encourage governments to make carbon removal mandatory.

I would argue that without such mandatory requirements a responsible business is at a disadvantage to one who uses our atmosphere as a garbage dump.

And we need to remove a trillion tons of CO2 already dumped into the atmosphere over the past 100 years just to get us back to a safe level of 350PPM of CO2.

It was good news to see that the technology exists now to remove carbon from the atmosphere and to dispose of it and/or make good use of it.

But the political and economic challenges still remain. It is up to the people to demand that the Climate Crisis is an urgent and important problem to solve.

Spending the money to solve the problem is a lot cheaper than the massive devastation that will result from inaction.

Here you can find more information about the Science and Engineering Council of Santa Barbara. And here is the web site of Carbon Engineering.

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James B Aug 25, 2021 10:44 AM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

We have been hearing about the "urgency of a climate crisis" for the last 35 years and have not seen with our own eyes even one shred of any evidence at alk that it's true. It's not true. And hundreds of legitimate scientists who will confirm this have been silenced and censored. Flat out communist lie and Athiest religion for their one world government utopia and religion.

sacjon Aug 25, 2021 11:20 AM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

JAMES B - "have not seen with our own eyes even one shred of any evidence at alk [sic] that it's true." 100% wrong. Sea levels are rising, the earth is hotter than before, ice packs are shrinking due to increased ocean temperatures. Why do the "communists" want to lie about the climate?

letmego Aug 25, 2021 01:27 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Not one shred of evidence? Eyeroll is right. You obviously aren't looking. (Drought, heating of the planet, melting ice caps, flooding...oh, nothing to see here...)

Chip of SB Aug 25, 2021 03:49 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Sac, you claim sea levels are rising. Can you point to any tide gages showing a recent change in long term sea level trends? The gage located at The Battery on Manhattan island shows a consistent linear trend going back to the early 19th century. If we are experiencing accelerating sea level rise, why is it not showing up in the tide gage data?

sacjon Aug 25, 2021 03:56 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution


"Global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has increased in recent decades." (

"Global mean sea level has risen about 8–9 inches (21–24 centimeters) since 1880, with about a third of that coming in just the last two and a half decades." (

" average sea level rose throughout the 20th century, and the rate of change has accelerated in recent years. When averaged over all of the world’s oceans, absolute sea level has risen at an average rate of 0.06 inches per year from 1880 to 2013 (see Figure 1). Since 1993, however, average sea level has risen at a rate of 0.12 to 0.14 inches per year—roughly twice as fast as the long-term trend." (

"Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms. The first graph tracks the change in sea level since 1993 as observed by satellites." (

There you go.

Chip of SB Aug 25, 2021 04:11 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Sac, I pulled the epa .gov link you noted. It presents “adjusted” tide gage data. To show accelerated sea level rise, the data has been “ adjusted to show global trends through calibration with recent satellite data.” If you look at data from a gage that has been there for over 100 years, there is no change in its long term linear trend. Linear tide gage data has been “adjusted” into a curve that suggests a recent acceleration.

Chip of SB Aug 25, 2021 04:23 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Indeed VOR, I will be called a denier and many other things. However, the fact remains that sea level rise claims are based on measurements that show a consistent linear trend for well over a century being “adjusted” into curves that show a recent acceleration.

Chip of SB Aug 25, 2021 04:43 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Sac, it depends where you measure. Some tide gages show rising trends and some show lowering trends. The land and the sea are in constant motion and sea level has been changing since long before humans existed. The question here is whether humans have caused a change to long term trends during the last century. Tide gage measurements show no change in their long term trends unless you adjust the measurements.

sacjon Aug 25, 2021 04:59 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

CHIP - So who is correct about the sea rising? These tide gauges or NASA, the NOAA and most credible scientists on the planet? Interesting question....

Voice of Reason Aug 25, 2021 05:13 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Again going off on a tangent.... Chip wasn't saying the sea level isn't rising, just that it's been rising on a consistent linear trend and that data you sourced was adjusted data that gave the appearance of an accelerated trend. He pulled the "adjusted" part straight from the source you provided.

a-1629937194 Aug 25, 2021 05:19 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

There's no such thing as a "linear trend" in sea level rise. Because of the complexities of water temperature, undersea topography, salinity, wind patterns, and currents, the amount of rise varies considerably based on geographic location. You simpletons think it's like filling a bathtub.

PitMix Aug 25, 2021 11:23 AM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Humans evolved to respond really well to emergencies. Does this look like an emergency to us yet?

Until it does, we will not embark on a comprehensive plan to actually address the issue. This means deciding on the true carrying capacity of the earth (some say 3 billion) and putting policies into place to achieve it. Without addressing this elephant in the room, all of these other solutions are just tilting at windmills.

And if you thought getting people to wear masks was hard, wait until we start to discuss this!

Voice of Reason Aug 25, 2021 11:51 AM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Pit, you’re 100% on point here. Sac, I believe James was referring to apocalyptic climate catastrophe that will kills millions of people in the next few years if we don’t take drastic action today. The climate change alarmists are just as bad as the climate changes deniers, extreme positions are rarely positive in representative democracy.

sacjon Aug 25, 2021 01:21 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

VOICE - not sure you're assessment of James is correct, but "one shred of any evidence" seems to me he is saying, well....."one shred of any evidence" To me meaning there is no evidence of any impending climate crisis and that's not true, as my examples prove.

Voice of Reason Aug 25, 2021 02:01 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Your combining "climate crisis" sensational, alarmist, involves emotion, and "climate change" fact/science based, without emotion. There is no evidence for a climate crisis, i.e. everyone's going to die by the end of the decade if we don't take drastic action today, while there is plenty to support climate change.

sacjon Aug 25, 2021 02:08 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

VOICE - so all the evidence of "climate change" I mentioned is not evidence of "climate crisis?" I feel like you're just arguing for arguments sake.

Voice of Reason Aug 25, 2021 02:18 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Correct, crisis implies impending doom especially when combined with politicians that say 'The world is going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change,' - Ocasio-Cortez. 1st, 100% false on the world ending even if we start polluting more than we do today. What the alarmists also ignore, are the massive gains we've made over the past 10 years in transitioning towards a greener society with a lower carbon output. This transition is far from done, but the idea that it needs to happen drastically overnight is simply sensationalism.

sacjon Aug 25, 2021 02:26 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

VOICE - So, again, are all the examples of climate change I provided not also examples of a climate crisis? Rising sea levels, shrinking ice caps, etc? Those aren't "shreds of evidence" of an impending climate crisis?

sacjon Aug 25, 2021 02:37 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

VOICE - you chicken, it was not answered. Are rising sea levels, shrinking ice caps, rising surface temperatures "shreds of evidence" of a possible climate crisis? Yes or no?

Voice of Reason Aug 25, 2021 02:43 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

You literally asked the same question twice. Shall I just copy and past my answer? I'm sorry I didn't give you the answer you were looking for the first time...

sacjon Aug 25, 2021 02:53 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

VOICE - yes or no? Why do you dodge and jump the fact that you're clearly wrong? You come in here to "dispute" my comment and then, when faced with a question as simple as this, you start deflecting and summersaulting like an Olympic acrobat. The answer is important. You can't genuinely and intellectually honestly say all those things are evidence of climate change, but not of a possible climate crisis. That's what will happen if we do nothing to stop what's happening, as evidenced by what I've provided. You politicize and dodge everything.

It's a simple FACT. If we don't do something to change what's happening to our climate, again as evidenced by these examples that you've already agreed were real, then we could be heading for a crisis. Maybe not 12 years from now, but at some point in the not too distant future.

a-1629938214 Aug 25, 2021 05:36 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Some of the fallacies the deniers are spreading about green energy:

a-1629937764 Aug 25, 2021 05:29 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

It's handy that the science deniers here always come up with the same old, tired, debunked social media fallacies about Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Myth #25:

Myth #69:

Myth #101:

Myth #109:

Myth #125:

Myth #171:

sacjon Aug 25, 2021 05:47 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

What is the end goal of all those who deny the planet is in trouble? Are you frightened about having to use less resources or changing some habits? Or are you scared it's just the liberal elite trying to "control" you for some reason?

Why? Why are some so resistant to the general notion that we need to pollute less and move towards renewable energy? Sure, it might not be that the world will end next year if we don't do something soon, but it's indisputable that we are polluting our planet and depleting its resources. Why is that OK with you?

Voice of Reason Aug 25, 2021 06:32 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

I’ve articulated my thoughts rather clearly throughout this thread. If you still don’t know what I’m saying then I don’t know how to help you.

sacjon Aug 25, 2021 06:43 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

VOICE - I mean "you" plural. Not letting you pigeon-heartedly scamper away again. Saying the climate crisis isn't real and imminent means you don't think we should be making urgent and significant advances in reducing pollution and renewable energy. You downplay it, which is de facto saying it's not urgent and we don't need to do anything now.

sbrobert Aug 25, 2021 05:51 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

A meteor is headed toward Earth. It won't be here for another 50 years. We have to divert it with our best technology. Diverting it early is easy. A few microns of deviation far in advance is enough to keep it from hitting the Earth. But every year we delay, it takes exponentially more energy and resources to avoid the collision. It turns out that if we do it in the next 12 years, we can just barely avoid disaster if we throw everything we have at it. After that, it is too late.

Does that mean that after 13 years we are all dead? No. Does it mean that after 45 years we are all dead? No. It means that if we don't act within 12 years, then we will all be dead in 50 years.

No, it is not exactly the same as the Climate Crisis. But does this analogy explain why it is correct to say we have a short window to solve the problem... Even though it does not mean we will experience disaster soon after that deadline is past? The Crisis is the lack of action during the time when it is possible to avoid utter disaster far in the future.

Voice of Reason Aug 25, 2021 06:05 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

We’ll, when I bring up the same point you argue with me Sac because that is exactly what I’ve been saying: we’ve made good progress the past decade far ahead of any “climate crisis”, and we will continue to make progress over the decades to come. Using this example., we’re already at the point where we’re aware of the meteor and have already taken, and will continue to take action to avoid it hitting us.

dukemunson Aug 25, 2021 06:19 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

The world is in trouble…but we certainly won’t ALL be dead in 50 years. That’s a silly prediction that has no basis in reality or science. We do need to take action… but It’s not helpful to make ridiculous over the top predictions like that.

a-1629947859 Aug 25, 2021 08:17 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said we have NOT done anything meaningful to take action and we are running out of time. VOR what exactly do you know that they do not?

Voice of Reason Aug 25, 2021 09:36 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

How can you look around and commonly see solar panels on roofs, electric cars on highways, wind farms in the hills, in addition to the many incremental efficiency improvements in how we use our existing carbon based energy sources, and to say we’ve done nothing meaningful? If the path we’re on isn’t making an impact then we simply have way too many people on earth to support us in carbon neutral way (excluding nuclear energy, that could solve nearly all our problems).

a-1630002708 Aug 26, 2021 11:31 AM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

It snowed so it can't be getting warmer. That is similar to your logic VOR. Yes, we see some solar panels and electric cars. But the amount so far is utterly inadequate. Actual numbers and statistics matter. You have not presented any.

edney Aug 26, 2021 12:23 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

It snowed, so all those people who back at peak Al Gore 2002 who predicted "snow is a thing of the past" and "this generation of school children in the UK will never see snow" have been wrong for the last 20 years. Every year for the last 20 someone influential in the movement like Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez comes out and puts out a 10 year prediction, then the next year they come out and say the same thing and they have moved the goalposts for the past 20 years.
They've played a role in pushing people to skepticism.

I've been skeptical because of all the blown predictions. There is something going on, but the people who predict and get the TV time to do it need to step off the stage.
I've learned to be skeptical because I was raised in a school system that taught us our parents generation had invented the nuclear weapons that would kill us all unless we learned to crawl under our desks and cover our ears, we had styrofoam and aerosol cans killing the Ozone layer and we'd all die of skin cancer, we were all going to starve due to over population, we were all going to die from DDT on and on and on.

So I switched to a "wait and see" policy

dukemunson Aug 26, 2021 12:32 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

It is a silly analogy that causes more harm then good. Yes we definitely need to be better stewards of the earth, but there will be people here in 100, 200 and 500 years. Fantastical predictions of doom do much more harm than good...

dukemunson Aug 26, 2021 12:36 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Artificial made up dates of doom are, and always have been, dumb. The irony of course is that mankind (and edhatters!) has been predicting them since the dawn of civilization...

a-1630012004 Aug 26, 2021 02:06 PM
Climate Crisis: Direct Carbon Capture Solution

Wait for the meteor is too late EDNEY. We are lucky that we are having fires and floods now as a tiny taste of what is to come. Nature has no obligation to give warnings that you can read.

Aerosol cans WERE destroying the ozone layer and there was an international agreement to eliminate those chemicals. Your example proves the point.


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