This Plant Does the Work of 40 Million Trees


Full disclosure: It's a carbon capture plant, not a real plant. But it might as well be a forest.

A Bill Gates-backed Carbon Capture plant in Canada wants to stop climate change by sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The company responsible is called Carbon Engineering. And they use a combination of giant fans and complex chemical processes to remove carbon dioxide from the air in a procedure known as Direct Air Capture.

While Direct Air Capture isn’t new, Carbon Engineering says its technology is advanced enough for it to finally make financial sense. Which put them in the radar of oil giants US-based Chevron and Occidental, and Melbourne-based BHP. They've also received backing from them because their tech using captured carbon can make synthetic fuels, instead of traditional fracking and deep sea drilling methods.

The company’s release says its equity raises show the “commercial readiness” of the technology, which pulls carbon emissions from the air and stores it in liquid form underground.

A commercial negative-emissions plant by Carbon Engineering would occupy 30 acres of land and scrub one megaton of CO2 from the atmosphere per year, which Oldham said is equivalent to planting 40 million trees.

Carbon Engineering has also developed another process it calls “air to fuels” which uses the carbon it captures and turns it into fuels that can power existing cars and trucks.

If the two technologies are used together, the company believes it can create a “closed loop” of carbon emissions, where the carbon that is emitted from the “air to fuels” process is the same carbon that had already been collected.

This process is specifically targeted at reducing emissions in the transportation sector, one of five industries Gates identified as areas where he’s investing.

In October, Gates, one of the richest persons in the world, announced he would be investing in “breakthrough” technologies targeted at the electricity, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and building sector to reduce emissions.

He also announced his involvement in a group called Breakthrough Energy Ventures to fund companies and technologies that would reduce carbon in each of those five industries, alongside billionaires like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Bloomberg founder Michael Bloomberg, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Saudi billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal.

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