Climate tech companies have kicked off their plan to construct a colossal plant in Wyoming that’s capable of sucking up 5 million tons of carbon per year and storing it deep underground.
Dubbed Project Bison, the LA-based CarbonCapture Inch and Texas-based Frontier Carbon Solutions hope to get the direct air capture (DAC) plant up and running in Wyoming by late 2023 with the target of working at full capacity of 5 million tons by 2030.
The plant will be built using modular units, which the company says will make the project easier to scale up. In essence, carbon will be captured from the ambient air using large bus-sized filters. The concentrated captured carbon will then be permanently stored deep underground in wells, which are yet to be approved by regulators. All of this will be powered using renewable energy, such as solar or wind.
This prevents carbon dioxide from entering Earth’s atmosphere where it would trap heat and lead to further climate change. The idea is that carbon-emitting companies can buy carbon credits from CarbonCapture Inc to offset their own emissions.
Once fully operational, Project Bison could be one of the world’s largest direct air carbon capture plants. The “Orca” plant in Iceland currently holds that record, removing some 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year, but many other projects are starting to emerge around the world.
CarbonCapture Inc is the brainchild of founder Bill Gross, an American billionaire financier known as the “Bond King.” The company announced Project Bison earlier this month off the back of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the largest piece of federal legislation ever to address climate change, which passed in August.
“With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the proliferation of companies seeking high-quality carbon removal credits, and a disruptive low-cost technology, we now have the ingredients needed to scale DAC to megaton levels by the end of this decade,” Adrian Corless, CEO and CTO of CarbonCapture Inc, said in a statement.
“We plan to have our first DAC modules fielded by the end of next year and to continue installing capacity as quickly as modules come off our production line. Our goal is to leverage economies of scale to offer the lowest priced DAC-based carbon removal credits in the market."
Carbon capture technology has been the subject of much hype in recent years with many hoping it could be a “get out of jail free” card to ease the worst of the climate breakdown.
However, the technology has been slow to get off the ground and is currently nowhere near meeting the vast carbon output of the planet. Many also argue that carbon capture technology – although great in principle – can foster a “burn now, pay later” mindset whereby the world isn’t actively encouraged to cut any emissions.
For context, Project Bison will remove about the same amount of carbon from the air as the average output of Nicaragua. That’s if it all goes to plan. While single projects like this barely make a dent in the global output of carbon, it is promising to see that carbon capture technology is starting to make a presence in our ever-warming world.