The Biden administration is taking big steps to advance carbon removal – announcing funding up to $1.2 billion to establish two direct air capture hubs in Louisiana and Texas. The administration is also expected to announce details of a new program to pay companies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Greeshma Gadikota directs the Sustainable Energy and Resource Recovery Group at Cornell University’s College of Engineering and works to develop carbon removal technologies. Gadikota received $2 million from the Department of Energy to advance carbon capture and critical metal recovery from iron, steel and aluminum manufacturing, and is leading a $4 million project to decarbonize concrete. She also assisted Cornell startup, Carbon To Stone, with strategies to capture carbon dioxide from air and store it as a durable solid carbonate. The startup received a $500,000 carbon removal pre-purchase agreement from Frontier in 2022.
“Realizing our climate targets requires reliable, verifiable, and permanent carbon removal technologies.
“Until now, carbon removal purchases mostly existed in the private domain with major companies, including Microsoft, setting up robust programs to buy verifiable carbon removals, and entities such as Frontier/Stripe Climate creating an innovation ecosystem to foster carbon removal.
“The Department of Energy’s recent decision to advance this ecosystem is aligned with the need to realize positive and lasting impacts on climate resilience.”
Phillip Milner is a professor of chemical and chemical biology, whose research focuses on the design of materials for gas storage and other applications. He says federal support of carbon removal will facilitate industry buy-in and technology development.
"Getting industry buy-in has been a bit challenging because carbon dioxide removed from air doesn’t have that much value (it's too expensive compared to carbon dioxide prepared in other ways). Support from the government will encourage more industry buy-in and technology development in the next 5-10 years.
"One thing that I think should be discussed more is the government prioritizing direct air capture over other types of CDR (like post-combustion capture and sequestration or capture from steel and cement manufacturing). We should take care of these point sources before going hard after direct air capture, because these emissions are just ending up in the air anyways."