DAC Technology Assessment
Addressing climate change is likely to require CO2 Direct Air Capture (DAC) technologies paired with the decarbonization of energy systems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has highlighted the need for as much as 10 Gt of CO2 removal per year in all forms of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) by 2050, to help keep global temperature increases below +1.5 ºC. To address this challenge, understanding the potential and costs of DAC technologies is necessary.
In this techno-economic assessment, we evaluate three leading DAC technologies:
High Temperature Aqueous Solvents (HT);
Low Temperature Solid Sorbents (LT); and
Moisture Swing Sorbents (MS)
Each technology's feasibility and cost are analyzed with a focus on geographical suitability across the US. This geographic perspective is crucial, because the physical efficiency and cost-effectiveness of these technologies can vary widely from state to state as a function of regional climate. Additionally, the assessment explores the learning curves for each technology, which play a pivotal role in understanding how costs might decrease as the technology matures and is deployed at scale.
At a high level, we found that LT technologies are likely to be the most widely suited across most of the US, especially in northern parts of the country, with geographic niches for MS technologies in the desert southwest and HT in the southeast. We calculate present-day costs above $400 per ton of CO2 for all three technologies. However, with technological learning the projected costs by mid-century fell to below $300 per ton of CO2 for MS and LT DAC under conservative assumptions and to $150-200 per ton of CO2 under optimistic assumptions for these two technologies.
By looking into current and projected future costs, plus regional applicability, this assessment aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the potential pathways for DAC technologies in the US. As we move forward, such insights will be essential in shaping decisions on how to best integrate DAC with the energy transition.
Economically optimal DAC technology deployed in each U.S. state.
The full report is available below:
About the Author: Federico de Lima is a rising Senior at Columbia University majoring in Earth and Environmental Engineering. He is originally from Colombia and having witnessed the impact of climate change on various local ecosystems while growing up, he decided to pursue a career to help the energy transition and mitigate climate change. While at Columbia, he developed an early passion for Carbon Capture and Direct Air Capture by having the opportunity to work under the guidance of Dr. Ah-Hyung (Alissa) Park at the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy developing sorbents and process engineering for DAC. Apart from researching DAC technologies, Federico also joined the Carbon Tech Development Initiative at the Center for Global Energy Policy as part of their operations team, to help early-stage founders and researchers take their carbon removal technologies from lab scale to commercialization.