Direct air capture (DAC) refers to a set of technologies that can capture industrial-scale quantities of CO2 from atmospheric air, as opposed to point-source CCS which captures only from flue stacks where CO2 is much more concentrated. DAC may be an important tool in managing emissions that don’t come from flue stacks and are hard or costly to eliminate at source. After several years of academic research on DAC I founded Carbon Engineering in 2009 to raise investment and pursue the applied engineering work needed to properly design, assess cost, and commercialize a DAC technology.
Myself and my colleagues at CE do not view DAC as similar with solar geoengineering. In the next decades--an eternity for a start-up company--it is likely to be deployed only in niche markets to make lower carbon-intensity products, or to help mitigate emissions from sectors of the economy with few technical alternatives. As an enabler of low-carbon transportation fuels, DAC is a conventional industrial technology, covered by existing environmental and safety regulations. It does not have the same potential for incredibly fast and cheap impact that necessitates such careful study and governance as solar geoengineering.
For more information on my work on DAC, see: