New carbon dioxide removal tech could help fight climate change affordably

Carbon Engineering, a British Colombia company, may have developed CO2 removal technology to fight back against climate change.

Combating climate change has long been the subject of financial debate, with some estimates of $2.4 trillion per year needed for energy investment.

But help may be on the way.

British Columbia-based Carbon Engineering is one of many global clean-energy companies investing in carbon dioxide removal technology and seeking to do it in an affordable way.

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Carbon Engineering's profile says it leads "the commercialization of groundbreaking technology that captures CO2 directly from the atmosphere, and a second technology that synthesizes it into clean, affordable transportation fuels."

The company's technology basically sucks air into a facility and exposes it to chemicals that specifically target carbon dioxide particles. This allows a way to draw down CO2 levels in hopes of reducing the rate at which Earth temperatures have risen in recent decades.

Carbon Engineering claims its method can reduce CO2 levels for $100 a ton, a sharp decline from estimates of CO2 removal running at about $600 a ton.

There is still some fear the technology could end up extending the current era of fossil-fuel use, as Carbon Engineering may have alarmed environmentalists when it announced on March 21 that it received $68 million in investment from the likes of Occidental Petroleum, Chevron and coal giant BHP Billiton. However, Carbon Engineering's long list of investors also includes billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates.

Meanwhile, other companies are developing similar technology. Climeworks, a Switzerland-based company, has been able to use a technique to capture CO2 and use it for vegetable growth and has raised over $50 million in funding. Climeworks' costs are $600 per ton of CO2 extracted, but it hopes to lower that cost to $200 within four years.

"Our vision is to capture 1 percent of global emissions. That requires a lot of capital," Climeworks co-founder Jan Wurzbacher told the Financial Times.

Chris Field, a climate scientist at Stanford University, told Science magazine that significant cost drops for capturing carbon dioxide from the air represent "real progress."

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This article originally appeared in IBTimes US.

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