This Exploratory Topic seeks to develop technologies focused on the direct air capture (DAC) of carbon dioxide from ambient air. Teams will work to establish robust, energy efficient, and low-cost strategies for direct removal of carbon dioxide from ambient air. Additionally, the Exploratory Topic has an added focus of complimenting existing DAC programs within the federal R&D community by focusing on earlier-stage and higher-risk projects and including performance-driven metrics for teams.
Capture of dispersed greenhouse gases (GHGs) is an important part of diversifying technologies to mitigate GHG emissions. A large portion of the CO2 emitted each year in the United States is released in relatively small quantities from distributed sources e.g., from small point sources or some transportation sources, where point source capture may be infeasible. In such cases, capture of dispersed CO2 serves as a crosscutting and complementary approach to achieving economy-wide net-zero emissions. Additionally, beyond helping to achieve net-zero emissions, capture of dispersed CO2 can also lead to net-negative emissions. Negative emissions technologies play a key role in potentially limiting global temperature increases resulting from, anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and when coupled with storage or certain utilization pathways, DAC can meet such needs and offset historical emissions. Projects will focus on DAC system components or full system design to meet these demands and create the potential for mitigation of GHG emissions.
Projects Funded Within This Exploratory Topic
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
ELECTROCHEMICAL DIRECT AIR CAPTURE OF CO2 USING REDOX-ACTIVE TEXTILES
The University of Michigan, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will develop a technology that captures CO2 from the atmosphere using an electrochemical approach, rather than the temperature swing cycle which is typically powered by fossil fuel combustion. The team’s concept is a pH swing cycle that changes conditions between basic and acidic to capture and release CO2, respectively. Direct air capture (DAC) of CO2 by inexpensive renewable electricity could reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of DAC. The team aims to optimize the design of the cycle to achieve high rates of CO2 separation at low energy inputs.
GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
WIND-DRIVEN DIRECT AIR CAPTURE SYSTEM USING 3D PRINTED, PASSIVE, AMINE-LOADED CONTACTORS
Georgia Institute of Technology aims to develop a simple, scalable, and modular device that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The device will be designed such that ambient wind is sufficient to contact the CO2-laden air with the materials that filter CO2 out. The filtered CO2 will then be concentrated using localized electric heating, which allows the device to be easily deployed and integrated with renewables or the existing electrical grid. The proposed technology is driven solely by electricity with only two moving parts (a damper and a vacuum pump), which dramatically simplifies scale-up and deployment compared with incumbent CO2 removal approaches.
HIGH-EFFICIENCY, LOW-COST, ADDITIVE-MANUFACTURED AIR CONTACTOR
Reducing the cost of CO2 removal from the air requires developing a new contactor, which captures CO2 so it can be recovered, concentrated, and stored. Creare aims to develop a contactor using Creare’s low-cost additive manufacturing methods. Creare will also incorporate a low-cost, durable sorbent that captures CO2 molecules from ambient air and releases CO2 for storage when heated to moderate temperatures. The contactor is designed for wind-driven operation, which reduces cost by eliminating the need for large arrays of fans to blow air through the system.