Carbon capture and storage has new life in the United States with the first commercial facility that can capture up to 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Created by Heirloom Carbon Technologies, the facility uses limestone that is heated to pull CO2 from the air. The heated limestone is vertically stacked in trays where it acts like a sponge to absorb the carbon.
The captured carbon dioxide is returned to a kiln where the carbon is extracted and the gas is stored underground or sequestered into concrete permanently through a partnership with CarbonCure Technologies. Heirloom and CarbonCure debuted their direct-air-capture-to-concrete storage demonstration earlier this year.
Several early adopters of Heirloom’s carbon removal credits, including Microsoft, Klarna, Stripe, and Shopify, will see net removal deliveries through the facility’s capture capacity of up to 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
“This first commercial direct air capture facility is the closest thing on Earth that we have to a time machine, because it can turn back the clock on climate change by removing carbon dioxide that has already been emitted into our atmosphere,” said Heirloom CEO and Co-Founder Shashank Samala. “The capacity of Heirloom’s limestone-based technology to capture CO2 from the air has gone from 1 kilogram of CO2 to up to one million, or 1,000 metric tons, in just over two years. We owe it to every climate-vulnerable citizen to continue to deploy our technology at the urgent pace required to reach billion-ton scale and beyond in time to stop the worst of climate change.”
The facility, located in Tracy, California, is powered by renewable energy supplied locally by Ava Community Energy. Heirloom also noted that no carbon dioxide removed will be used for enhanced oil recovery and no equity will be granted to companies whose core business is the production of oil and gas, as per the company’s outlined principles for the responsible deployment of carbon removal.
Overcoming Carbon Capture Obstacles
One of the biggest criticisms of carbon capture and storage has been the high cost of production. According to Heirloom, by using limestone, which is an abundant, easy-to-source, and inexpensive material, the company has created one of the lowest-cost pathways to permanent CO2 removal.
Heirloom has an overall goal of removing 1 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere by 2035, which is about 20% of annual emissions from the United States. The launch of the new facility represents big strides in carbon capture and storage scaling. Heirloom has excited investors in the space, with the company securing $53 million in a Series A funding round last year from several big-name climate investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures — founded by Bill Gates.
Plus, Heirloom was among other partners selected for one of the largest projects in the DAC Hub program, with up to $600 million in federal funding available for a DAC facility in Louisiana.
Carbon Capture in California
California has other carbon capture deals ongoing, including a commercial pilot between Avnos, a Los Angeles-based direct air capture technology company, and Southern California Gas Company to test the first water-positive DAC system for CO2 removal.
“We’ve set ambitious, nation-leading climate goals to cut pollution and accelerate our transition to clean energy,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Projects like this Heirloom facility are exactly the sort of big and innovative ideas that we’re embracing – using renewable energy to directly remove pollution from our air, all while creating good-paying jobs in the Central Valley. California is creating the model for expanding the economy and fighting climate change.”