Vacuuming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has always been a subject for years. Consequently, the move to slow down climate change by removing gigatons of CO2 has attracted various startups, with famous entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Bill Gates chipping in. Some experts argue that it can take decades for startups interested in carbon removal to make the world a habitable place for future generations. Still, it’s a good start. So, here are five carbon-removal startups to keep an eye on.
5. Heirloom Carbon Technologies (San Francisco)
According to MIT Technology Review, Heirloom Carbon Technologies is a carbon-removal company in San Francisco that uses minerals to delay climate change. Their approach to eliminating carbon from the atmosphere is enhanced weathering. They intend to ensure around one billion tons of CO2 from greenhouses aggravating the climate change by 2035 through minerals. The company stated that it requires $50 to remove a ton once it’s on its feet. Currently, it’s already got seed funding from top investors like Prelude Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and Lowercarbon Capital. Some research firms like Carbon180 reveal that the funding amount could be millions. However, they intend to disclose how much they’ve received by May 26, 2022. Heirloom’s CEO, Shashank Samala, reveals that they intend to capture carbon by heating limestone into sponge via mineralization. Afterward, they resell to other companies at affordable prices instead of permanent solutions like direct air capture. Carbon 180’s president agrees with Heirloom’s approach and thinks of it as a cheap and permanent removal technique once it reaches its cost targets. Its biggest client is Stripe which has committed to buying hundreds of millions of carbon removal till 2030.
4. Carbon Clean Solutions (London, United Kingdom)
Carbon Clean Solutions is a London-based sustainable technology startup specializing in CO2 capture and separation. Unlike other approaches, the startup’s goal is to reduce carbon costs and physical footprints. In 2022, Chevron, another sustainability technology investor aimed at lowering carbon solutions, announced that it would work with Carbon Clean to revolutionize carbon capture. The partnership aims to build Carbon Clean’s CycloneCC technology via a gas turbine in California. Chevron expects up to 25 million tons of CO2 per year in equity storage.
3. See 02 Energy (Canada)
See 02 Energy is a Canadian-based startup that relies on fuel cell technology to turn CO2 and water into sustainable products. The startup aims to remove greenhouse gasses (GHGs) from the air through technology to trap and retain carbon dioxide, meeting the global climate targets. It targets industries emitting carbon through fossil fuel burning, thanks to its electrolyzed devices which can produce gasses on-site, including carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and oxygen, sustainably. The action turns GHG emissions into assets, helping clients reduce carbon footprints while storing the excess CO2 into fuels and chemicals for future use. The startup’s strategy is to break down greenhouse gasses into various fuels for generating power, heat, oxygen, and harmless energy. Founded in 2018, the startup has received up to $156,800 in seed funding since it announced its interest in entering the carbon-removal market. Its latest funding was in July 2020 from Sustainable Development Technology Canada and Techstars Energy Accelerator in conjunction with Statoil.
2. Carbon Engineering (Canada)
According to The Atlantic, Carbon engineering is one of the most outperforming decarbonizing companies to watch out for. Like Climeworks, it uses the Direct Air Capture (DAC) methodology to remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere for underground storage. Based in Canada, Carbon Engineering has received funds from several governments, eco-conscious/sustainability organizations, and private investors, including Bill Gates of Microsoft and N. Murray Edwards. Some private investors like Chevron Corporation, BHP, and Occidental Petroleum injected around $68 million into their project. The company’s approach to decarbonizing works in two ways; first, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere via an air contractor. Afterward, it converts the trapped CO2 into liquid form from the air contractor, purifying it and injecting it underneath the earth. By May 2019, the company announced its merger relationship with Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, LLC. In the same year, it announced a remodel of the plant, capturing up to one million tons of carbon dioxide each year.
1. Climeworks (Switzerland)
According to Fast Company, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that if the atmosphere’s temperatures increase by 1.5-2- degrees Celsius, the future generation will face the worst effect of climate change. Climeworks, a Swiss-based carbon-removal startup, already knows this. That is why it commits to removing billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year to prevent those effects. Climeworks aims to decarbonize by capturing carbon directly from the atmosphere and directing it into underground CarbonCure. CarbonCure, in turn, channels carbon into concrete, Project Vesta. Project Vesta then turns carbon into limestone before releasing it to the seafloor. Finally, a biomass oil producer, Charm Industrial, takes the carbon-turned-limestone into the earth. Despite them being small startups, the company relies on these four companies to safely remove carbon from the atmosphere underneath the earth. The idea is to use a sustainable solution to decarbonize carbon cheaply. Consequently, it has already received pledges from decarbonizing clients like Stripe, Meta, Shopify, McKinsey Sustainability, and Alphabet worth hundreds of millions.
What’s the future of the carbon removal market?
According to Viva Technology, carbon removal startups are likely to hit $1 trillion by 2050. The amount of carbon removed and the prices will influence the market. Still, other researchers argue that its market might fall ten times like the sulfur capture predicted in the 1970s. As other startups with various technology and natural carbon removal techniques seeking to disrupt technology keep emerging, it’s unclear how the market will behave.