Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture company AirCapture and carbon dioxide conversion company OCOchem, along with other partners, have won a $2.93 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to design and engineer an integrated carbon dioxide capture and conversion plant co-located at Nutrien’s Kennewick Fertilizer Operations plant in Kennewick, Wash.
AirCapture develops on-site, modular technology that captures CO2 from the air using waste heat from manufacturing plants, enabling customer operations to go carbon neutral and even negative. OCOchem transforms recycled CO2, water and zero-carbon electricity to produce formic acid, a globally traded commodity chemical and emerging electro-fuel.
“As the world continues to face climate change challenges, developing scalable and cost-efficient decarbonization solutions has become increasingly important,” said Matt Atwood, Founder and CEO of AirCapture, based in Berkeley, Calif.
“Our modular, on-site technology that takes CO2 from the air and puts it directly into our customers’ production processes addresses climate challenges while bringing value to our customers and is a perfect fit for this project with Nutrien. We are excited to work with OCOchem and our other partners as we continue to make advancements in this critical space.” Almost every manufacturing plant in the world emits waste heat or CO2 or both, notes Todd Brix, Co-Founder and CEO of OCOchem, based in Richland, Wash.
“Every manufacturer that is emitting steam and/or CO2 into the air can, with our collective approach, build facilities to use waste steam to take CO2 out of the air or from their process emissions and use the CO2 to make a valuable platform chemical. We are converting common industrial waste streams into product streams.”
The goal is to use both companies’ technology to design an integrated carbon capture and conversion plant that uses waste steam from Nutrien’s fertilizer facility to extract CO2 from the air and then convert it, with water and electricity, to make formic acid. The formic acid can then be stored, transported, and used directly in many industrial, consumer, transportation, and agricultural industries. Additionally, it can be used to transport green hydrogen safely and cost-effectively in an energy-dense liquid carrier form to a customer site where the hydrogen can be released for industrial use or as a transportation fuel, replacing fossil fuels. Nutrien, one of the world’s largest fertilizer manufacturers, has committed to achieve at least a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per ton of Nutrien’s products by 2030. The proposed CO2 capture and conversion plant will be instrumental in helping the company meet these aggressive goals.
“This process of using industrial waste steam to capture CO2 from the air and converting it to a usable chemical is an energy, atom, and cost-efficient way for many companies to significantly reduce the carbon intensity of their operations and products,” Brix said.
“The goal of this engineering study is to establish a technical and economic basis for Nutrien and other manufacturers to use their waste heat to capture and convert CO2 co-located with their existing plants. We hope this technology can then be incorporated into other facilities with waste steam in other industries as well.”
Results from the Direct Air Capture and Utilization System (DACUS) design will also be used to quantify how deployment of the proposed technology will increase the number of local clean energy and manufacturing jobs, payroll, and taxes. In addition, the project will assess the impact on members of the local community.
Additional partners participating in the project include the Benton Public Utility District, and the University of Alabama, Sacre-Davey Engineering, and TRI-DEC (Tri-Cities Development Council).