A momentous event

The National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC) is excited to announce the facility’s first installed and commissioned direct air capture (DAC) on-site test, in collaboration with Southern States Energy Board (SSEB) and Aircapture.

In a significant step toward mitigating the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, SSEB and Aircapture are leading a unique DAC recovery demonstration to advance innovative solutions that can remove carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere. Officially called the Direct Air Capture Recovery of Energy for CCUS Partnership (DAC RECO2UP), the project aims to conduct rigorous testing of a pioneering DAC technology at the NCCC.

By harnessing the expertise of the NCCC and its leading-edge facilities, the project team is poised to make substantial strides in developing and implementing the DAC technology.

SSEB and Aircapture DAC demonstration infrastructure at National Carbon Capture Center

“The National Carbon Capture Center has a strong history of supporting the development of post-combustion carbon capture technologies, and we are excited to build on the lessons learned and infrastructure from that work to expand our scope to include direct air capture technologies,” said John Carroll, NCCC principal research engineer. “Our staff’s expertise in hosting and supporting technology developers provides a great environment that can accelerate innovation in the direct air capture space.”

Out of thin air

While many CO2 extraction processes capture emissions from industrial sources, carbon removal technologies like DAC are designed to extract CO2 directly from the air, from virtually anywhere, and can help address historical CO2 emissions already present in our atmosphere.

SSEB, Aircapture and other DAC RECO2UP team members are working together to scale up and demonstrate a modular and scalable atmospheric CO2 removal system. The technology employs solid-amine adsorption-desorption contactor technology in integrated field units that produce a CO2 stream of at least 95% purity using low-grade waste heat (often available in industrial and fossil fuel plant settings.) The NCCC is assisting with commercially relevant field testing after design, construction and initial testing by Aircapture.

Testing its technology

The project’s technology demonstration involves using specialized equipment that pulls in ambient air, removes CO2 molecules and subsequently isolates and concentrates them for safe storage or conversion into valuable products. Aircapture has developed an integrated DAC system design – with thermal recovery and downstream processing – to increase overall system fidelity and produce high-quality CO2 that can be used for sequestration or sold to industrial customers.

Funded with support from the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management and National Energy Technology Laboratory (DE-FE0031961), the experiments at the NCCC involve evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of the DAC system, exploring different capture materials and optimizing CO2 extraction and storage processes.

“The Southern States Energy Board is thrilled that the DAC RECO2UP project was awarded funding for the first direct air capture testing at the National Carbon Capture Center. By leveraging the NCCC’s expertise in carbon management technologies, their assistance with the DAC technology and the use of their world-class facility, the project will help demonstrate and scale up a new DAC negative-carbon technology and advance it to commercial implementation,” said Southern States Energy Board Secretary and Executive Director Kenneth Nemeth.

“We are proud to partner with the National Carbon Capture Center and Southern States Energy Board to create and scale a circular carbon economy,” said Matthew Atwood, founder and CEO of Aircapture. “Demonstrating our modular, scalable DAC technology and producing market-ready CO2 in real-world conditions at the NCCC is invaluable to our technology development and commercialization efforts. We aim to supply our customers with clean CO2 removed from the atmosphere to radically improve the environment, the economy and our lives. We are very appreciative that our work with the NCCC and SSEB is helping us achieve this goal.” 

Creating a more sustainable energy future

The NCCC’s collaboration with developers such as SSEB, Aircapture and their partners represents a significant effort to leverage the NCCC’s highly specialized expertise and state-of-the-art facility to identify next-generation breakthroughs in carbon management technologies.

The NCCC facility allows for real-life industrial operating conditions combined with the infrastructure to evaluate cutting-edge carbon capture, carbon conversion and DAC technologies for scale-up and future commercial adoption. The neutral test center recently added DAC to its overall scope of carbon management technologies along with an expanded focus on carbon capture for natural gas power plants.

Continued research and development in real-world conditions are essential to optimize the efficiency and scalability of DAC systems, gather important data and insights that can contribute to the design and implementation of large-scale DAC projects, and pave the way for their enhanced commercial viability and widespread adoption. These efforts represent a crucial step toward reducing atmospheric carbon concentrations and achieving carbon neutrality, resulting in a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.