Australian company secures $700,000 deal for carbon capture and storage machine

An Australian tent-sized solar-powered prototype machine that can suck CO2 out of the air has won a $700,000 contract to capture and store carbon.

The deal, part of a project backed by companies including the owners of Google and Facebook, would mark the first time an Australian company has signed a deal to remove CO2 using direct air capture technology (DAC).

AspiraDAC will deploy approximately 180 of the machines, developed and made in Australia, to capture and store 500 tonnes of CO2 by 2027 at an agreed cost of US$1,000 (AU$1,469) per tonne.

In April, several major companies, including the owners of Facebook and Google, announced a new venture called Frontier that would allocate US$925 million (AU$1,359) to projects that extract CO2 from the air and then store it.

In the company’s first major purchase, technology company Stripe, one of its partners in Frontier, announced this week that it is spending $2.4 million (AU$3.5 million) on six direct air capture projects around the world, including AspiraDAC.

The Executive Director of AspiraDAC, Julian Turecek, said it would take up to 180 modules to fulfill the contract and cover an area of ​​less than half a hectare.

He said the company had not confirmed the location or geological repository for the site, but it was considering the depleted oil and gas reservoirs at Moomba, in South Australia.

“We really think this is a starting point for direct air capture in Australia,” Turecek said. “This is the beginning of what could be an important industry.”

He said the carbon removal deal with Frontier will likely be the first of several that AspiraDAC would deliver.

Southern Green Gas has developed the machines in collaboration with the University of Sydney and will build and supply them to AspiraDAC.

Southern Green Gas business development manager and co-founder Brett Cooper believed the contract to deliver the emissions reductions using DAC was a first in Australia. Each module can capture two tons of CO2 per year.

Cooper said: “This is a typical Australian solution because not everyone has the country that also has the intensity of solar energy that we have.”

The amount of carbon reduction under the new contract is small, but Cooper said the deal is a big step for the industry he believes has great growth potential in Australia.

The core of the Australian machine is a spongy material developed at the University of Sydney that traps CO2 molecules as air passes through them.

Fans suck air into containers with the sponges and then heat is used to extract the pure CO2 which can be pumped and stored underground. All power comes from the solar panels that cover the units like an A-frame tent.

The Sydney team of scientists and student researchers last year won a $250,000 award to support the development of tech billionaire Elon Musk’s $100 million (AU$147 million) X-prize material, which seeks to launch large-scale carbon removal projects. to make.

Prof Deanna D’Alessandro, who oversees the Sydney team, said: “Reducing carbon will be absolutely essential. This tackles the problem directly and that is really powerful.”

“The students see that the materials they make have a real impact on carbon uptake.”

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Turecek said: “Nature has designed the perfect air trapping machine and that is a tree. But DAC does that mechanically and once we can do that at scale, we can control that CO2 removal and make it permanent.”

An international Energy Under the Agency’s plan to have the world’s economies reach net-zero emissions by 2050, direct air capture technologies should deliver more than 85 million tons of carbon capture by 2030. Currently, the agency says the technology can deliver just 10,000 tons worldwide.

In May, USA government announced a US$3.5 billion program to build four major hubs for direct air capture projects.

The world’s largest direct air capture plant is in Iceland and the company behind the plant, Climeworks, announced this week it would expand capacity to 36,000 tons of CO2 per year.

dr. Paul Feron, a scientist working on carbon capture technologies at CSIRO, said the agency was working on three different DAC technologies that he hoped would be brought to market within a decade.

“We’ve gotten to the point in terms of atmospheric CO2 levels where we need an ‘all of the above’ approach,” he said.

“We have to be good at using as little energy as possible and we have to replace our fossil fuels with renewable energy as soon as possible. But that will most likely not be enough and we need to manage the carbon that is already driving climate change. That is why there is enormous interest in DAC.

“We need to plant as many trees as possible, but it’s a reflection on the gravity of the problem that we need to look at now [DAC] also.”

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