Raising our sail to leverage Direct Air Capture tailwinds while they’re blowing

December 14, 2022
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An opportunity to have an accelerated impact on the future of carbon removal is here. Noya is committing to move forward with standalone Direct Air Capture projects to most effectively scale up our technology and meet the demand of carbon removal buyers. 

In the past 12 months carbon removal buyers have announced over $1 billion in advanced market commitments. Venture capital firms have raised billions of dollars to support climate tech companies, including a $350 million fund dedicated solely to carbon removal. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 was passed into law, presenting an unparalleled opportunity for Direct Air Capture companies to earn significant tax credits for the capture and safe storage of CO2

Additionally, a wave of talented engineers, scientists, policy experts, marketers, and operators are joining companies addressing climate change. Together, this presents an inflection point and an incredible opportunity to guide what the future of carbon removal efforts look like. 

KEY LEARNINGS

Here at Noya, we initially focused on leveraging existing cooling towers for our Direct Air Capture process. By piggybacking on these existing pieces of industrial equipment, we could save on upfront capital expenses and ongoing operational expenses while shortening installation times. We designed a Direct Air Capture system that minimized impact on cooling tower performance, and built trusted relationships with a wide range of cooling tower owners interested in deploying our technology.

Then, earlier this year, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed into law. The bill is a huge tailwind for us, and it offers the opportunity to accelerate scale-up and cost-reduction efforts faster than ever thought possible. To unlock this speed, our future projects must capture at least 1,000 tons of CO2 per deployment. The reality is that many cooling towers just don’t move enough air to support that annual production rate.

Tailwinds don’t mean anything unless you have a sail ready to catch them, and today we’re announcing the raising of that sail. Moving forward, we are going to be focused on deploying standalone projects, co-located with geologic storage and not retrofitted onto cooling towers. This change allows us to take advantage of the IRA’s tailwinds while they’re blowing and scale-up our technology at the speed that addressing climate change requires.

FIGHTING CARBON WITH CARBON

While we were working on our cooling tower retrofit designs, there were a few key constraints we needed to meet to successfully build onto these pieces of equipment:

  • We needed a low pressure drop across our equipment so the cooling tower still performed well
  • We needed low energy requirements so we could tap into existing power source on-site
  • We needed a small footprint requirement so we could slot our retrofit in next to existing equipment

As it turns out, these constraints also make for a great standalone direct air capture process, and we plan to apply the same technology we built for cooling towers to our new standalone deployment strategy. To describe our process in a few words: we’re going to use carbon to fight carbon.

Our direct air capture process uses activated carbon monoliths coated with a blend of CO2 capture chemicals to separate CO2 from ambient air. Air passes through our sorbent using fans, and CO2 binds to the surface of the material, staying behind. We then use the direct application of electricity to electro-thermally desorb our captured CO2 for permanent removal and sequestration.

To rapidly scale-up our technology, we need to minimize the number of process components that also need to be scaled-up. We selected activated carbon to meet this mandate — millions of tons of activated carbon are already consumed in high-volume industrial applications today, and we can source this important material on almost every continent in the world (sorry, Antarctica).

The same can be said about our CO2 capture chemicals as well. These material selections, along with our modular design that relies on off-the-shelf components, allow us to move at break-neck speed as we scale our process up over the next few years.

WHAT’S NEXT

As the dust settles on this critical year for carbon removal, and as we gear up for what’s next, we’re excited to continue to share updates about our specific deployment plans and our Direct Air Capture technology. Keep an eye out for more updates coming in Q1 after the holidays.

We’re incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made so far, which starts and ends with the Noyans who have joined us on this journey so far. We’ve grown from six to thirteen over the last year, assembling a diverse team with deep expertise in developing, deploying, and scaling-up new technologies.

We’ve updated our website to reflect these big changes, and we’re excited to share even more about what this new vision entails in the weeks and months to come.