Heirloom, a California climate technology company, introduced what it claims to be the first commercial direct air capture (DAC) plant in the United States. The facility, located in Tracy, California, utilizes crushed limestone to capture 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. This achievement is a crucial step towards addressing the pressing need to remove billions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.
Despite the promise of direct air capture, its feasibility hinges on achieving a cost-effective solution. Currently, industry prices for carbon removal through direct air capture range from $600 to $1,000 per ton. Heirloom aims to reduce these costs through the expansion of its facilities, part of a broader strategy to make carbon capture and storage more economically viable.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm emphasized the necessity of scaling up such technologies rapidly to meet ambitious climate targets. The U.S. government envisions achieving a cost target of $100 per ton within the next decade, highlighting the urgency of advancements in this field.
Heirloom's new plant employs a process where crushed limestone naturally absorbs CO2, which is then released through renewable energy. The captured gas is stored in collaboration with startup CarbonCure, utilizing concrete as a storage medium. This innovative approach aligns with the Department of Energy's initiative to invest billions in grants for direct air capture demonstration hubs, with Heirloom being among the recipients of the largest-tier grant.
The move towards carbon removal technologies is not confined to the private sector. Occidental Petroleum, another grant recipient, is integrating acquired DAC technology with its underground resource management expertise for efficient carbon storage. BlackRock a major player in global finance, has signaled its confidence in this endeavor by investing $550 million in Occidental's West Texas plant.
The unveiling of Heirloom's commercial DAC plant signifies a tangible stride in the pursuit of scalable and cost-effective solutions for carbon removal, offering a glimpse into the evolving landscape of climate technology.