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Affordable Carbon Capture Within Reach, Startup Says

Iain Wilson, BloombergNEF

A startup backed by Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures is confident it can capture and remove carbon emissions at a fraction of the cost of most projects in development today, opening up the process to a host of so-called hard-to-abate industries such as the airline industry that are still trying to figure out how to cut their emissions affordably. 

Graphyte says its carbon sequestration technique can suck carbon from the air and store it permanently at $100 a metric ton of captured carbon dioxide equivalent, far below the $600 to $1,000 the International Energy Agency estimates direct air carbon capture currently costs. Graphyte will this month begin commissioning a pilot plant. Once it’s up and operating, economies of scale could push Graphyte’s costs even lower, the company says. 

Graphyte’s method of carbon capture, which it calls carbon casting, takes biomass such as crop waste, dries it, compresses it into blocks, wraps the blocks in an impermeable polymer sheet — locking out moisture and preventing microbial decomposition — then buries the bricks permanently in lined pits. Graphyte says it’s confident the process will store the carbon for at least 1,000 years. As an added bonus, the land over which the bricks are buried will be able to be reused, say, for a solar farm or for agriculture. 

“The fundamental difference [between direct air capture and carbon casting] is in the amount of relative energy required to separate something that’s 0.04% of a solution atmospheric gas versus just dealing with the entity as a whole as biomass,” Barclay Rogers, Graphyte’s founder and chief executive officer, told BloombergNEF in an interview. 

Read the full Q&A here.



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