The US Department of Energy is declaring openly a massive investment indirect air carbon removal projects, with expectations of kickstarting an industry that energy experts say is important to get the country’s planet-warming emissions under control.
Direct air carbon removal projects are similar to giant vacuum cleaners that suck planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the air and lock it away. They use chemicals to eliminate the gas from the air and store it in rocks deep underground or put it to use in materials like cement.
Nature can conduct this on its own through the forests, bogs, and oceans. All of these suck carbon out of the atmosphere but are not practically fast enough to keep up with human fossil fuel emissions. Specialists tell CNN that these giant, carbon-removing machines are the second frontier to bring CO2 levels down.
“The UN’s latest climate report made clear that removing legacy carbon pollution from the air through direct air capture and safely storing it is an essential weapon in our fight against the climate crisis,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told in a statement. Granholm also announced that the infrastructure law funding “will not only make our carbon-free future a reality but will help position the U.S. as a net-zero leader.”
“What you’re building is an entire carbon removal industry,” Larsen explained. “The chances of getting to gigaton scale go down dramatically if we don’t start this decade. It’s way, way harder.”