The global air transport industry adopted a long-term climate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in October of last year, confirming the commitment of the world’s airlines, airports, air traffic management and the makers of aircraft and engines to reduce CO2 emissions in support of the Paris Agreement 1.5ºC goal. This was an update to an earlier industry-wide goal that was set way back in 2009.
Since then, multiple decarbonisation solutions have been pushed to the fore, some of which include technology innovation in aircraft design, new fuels like hydrogen and SAF, efficiency improvements in airport operations and air traffic management, and market-based measures.
Reportedly, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), simply eliminating emissions will not be enough for the world to reach net zero by 2050, removing C02 from the atmosphere would have to be thrown into the list of measures as well, if 2050 climate goals are to be practically met.
Airbus has therefore partnered with 1PointFive to bring carbon removals from direct air capture technology to the aviation industry.
So what is Direct Air Carbon Capture and how does it work?
Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (DACCS)
Carbon Engineering, a company based in Canada has pioneered a direct air capture technology at its pilot plant in Squamish, Canada and has now set its sights on large-scale deployment. 1PointFive-Carbon Engineering’s licensed US partner is developing these facilities at a megaton scale in the United States and elsewhere. Once operational, this facility is expected to capture up to one million tonnes of CO2 from the air per year- roughly equivalent to the work or absorption capacity of approximately 40 million trees.
The technology behind it
A large fan draws air into an air contactor, which is modelled on industrial cooling towers. The air passes over thin plastic surfaces with a non-toxic potassium hydroxide solution flowing over them to trap the CO2 molecules as a carbonate salt.
A pellet reactor is used to separate the carbonate salt from the solution and the carbon pellets are then heated in a calciner to release the CO2 as a pure gas.
The processed pellets are hydrated in a device called a “slaker” and recycled for use in the original capture solution.
The captured pure CO2 can then either be stored underground or reused for the production of, for example, Power-to-Liquid fuel through a complementary process called AIR TO FUELS. The former, known as carbon storage or sequestration, involves injecting the CO2 into saline formations more than a kilometre below the earth’s surface. As a result, CO2 is permanently and safely stored underground.
Airbus has pre-purchased the capture and permanent sequestration of 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere each year for four years in an agreement signed with 1PointFive.
We’re proud to partner with Airbus on an enormous opportunity to help the aviation industry and other hard-to-abate sectors decarbonize. Direct Air Capture will be a scalable, practical solution that aerospace pioneers like Airbus can integrate into their decarbonization roadmaps to contribute to climate actionsaid 1PointFive CEO Michael Avery
Reportedly, several airlines have shown interest to collaborate with Airbus in this area to promote direct air capture as a necessary means toward achieving net zero emission goals by 2050.
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