Mining Air for Fuels and Fine Chemicals

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OPEN 2018
Tempe, Arizona
Project Term:
08/13/2019 - 12/31/2021

Critical Need:

The biggest hurdle to carbon capture is the large amount of electricity needed. Current direct air capture (DAC) technology consumes 8.8 gigajoules (approximately 2,445 kilowatt hours) per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2), primarily from regeneration of the capture medium and air circulation. Estimates for DAC costs range from $92-232 per ton. Sorbents for carbon capture, such as synthetic silicas, are regenerated using temperature, pressure or vacuum, so that CO2 can be collected for sequestration or use, and the sorbent can be reused. For carbon capture technology be cost-effective, fuel production should cost less than $75/ton.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

ASU will collect CO2 from air using a low-cost polymer membrane-based DAC process. The team will use water evaporation to drive to capture CO2, decrease emissions, and improve the energy efficiency of the overall carbon capture process. The project will use novel materials to create high-surface area membranes to continuously and actively pump CO2 against a concentration gradient. The process will capture distributed CO2 emissions that can be sequestered or converted into a wide range of energy-dense fuels, fuel feedstocks, or fine chemicals.

Potential Impact:

ASU’s technology will devlop low-cost DAC of CO2 from the atmosphere.


This project could change the landscape of fuel manufacturing—and the energy costs associated with them—by enabling onsite regional CO2 capture and conversion to fuel that substantially reduces distribution costs and security risks.


The CO2 could be sequestered to more quickly restore the carbon balance needed to mitigate climate change costs and risks, or converted into carbon-neutral fuels and products in lieu of petroleum-based products.


Cost effectively harnessing unlimited supplies of atmospheric CO2 will significantly expand market opportunities for large fuel, energy storage, and fine chemical markets for which bottled or point source CO2 is not currently feasible.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Philseok Kim
Project Contact:
Matthew Green
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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