Innovation That Matters

The plant will use electrolysis to generate hydrogen, then combine this with carbon captured from the air to produce a liquid fuel | Photo source Huron Clean Energy

Canadian facility plans to produce fuel from thin air

Agriculture & Energy

Ground is being broken soon on a facility that will capture carbon from the air and turn it into a low-emission fuel for vehicles

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Spotted: Carbon capture has been getting some press lately, but a new initiative could see a leap forward in this technology. Canadian clean energy company Huron Clean Energy is partnering with carbon capture company Carbon Engineering to not only capture carbon from the air, but to turn it into a low-carbon fuel.

The plant will use Carbon Engineering’s Direct Air Capture and Air to Fuels technologies to create the fuel. The process involves first electrolysing water, splitting it into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then combined with carbon dioxide which has been sequestered from the atmosphere using direct air capture. The end-product is a set of hydrocarbons that can be used in place of traditional petroleum-based fuels. This entire process is powered by hydroelectricity.

When complete, the new facility will have the capacity to produce up to 100 million litres of ultra-low carbon fuel each year. According to Carbon Engineering, the fuel produces up to 90 per cent fewer emissions than conventional hydrocarbons and can be used both as a replacement for traditional gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as well as in fuel blends. Importantly, no modification is needed for the fuel to work in existing vehicles.

According to Carbon Engineering’s website, their large-scale carbon sequestration technology can be built to capture one million tonnes of CO2 per year at a single facility – equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 250,000 cars.

“Unlike capturing emissions from industrial flue stacks, our carbon removal technology captures carbon dioxide (CO2) – the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change – directly out of the air around us,” the Carbon Engineering website explains. “This can help counteract today’s unavoidable CO2 emissions, and remove the large quantities of CO2 emitted in the past that remains trapped in our atmosphere.” 

Carbon capture technology has been heating up in recent years, with innovations such as a German plant making jet fuel using captured CO2 and a portable system that turns captured carbon to rock. However, the Canadian project promises to capture carbon and produce CO2 at scale, which will be needed if this technology is to make a dent in global emissions.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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