Frequently Asked Questions

Carbon removal and Direct Air Capture

What is the climate crisis in simple terms?

The climate crisis refers to the significant and harmful changes in the Earth's climate that are happening as a result of human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. The warming of the planet is causing more extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and other environmental impacts that threaten the well-being of people, animals, and ecosystems.

More precisely, CO2 in the atmosphere is the main driver for the greenhouse gas effect and thus for the current heating up of our planet. Since the industrial revolution in 1870, we increased the fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere from 280ppm to 420ppm, which translates to a temperature increase of already 1.3 °C on average. While those changes may seem small, at the end of the last ice-age the planet was just 6 °C colder than today, and most of Europe was under ice sheets several kilometers thick. This illustrates how even small changes on the temperatures have huge impact on e.g. extreme weathers like floods, thunderstorms and extreme drought. To mitigate the growing consequences and avoid further climate catastrophe, it is imperative to act and stop emitting more CO2.

Why do we need to remove CO2 from our atmosphere?

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and climate change. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but that unfortunately is not enough anymore. We also need to remove emissions from the atmosphere to truly become carbon-neutral. According to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from the United Nations, we need to remove a minimum of 6 billion tons of CO2 per year by 2050 to limit the devastating consequences of climate change.

What is Direct Air Capture?

Direct Air Capture is a technology that involves removing carbon dioxide directly from the air using machines specifically designed for this purpose, and thus vastly more efficient at it than other systems, like trees, for example. These machines capture carbon dioxide using various chemical processes and then store it in long-term storage locations, such as underground geological or concrete.

Why is Direct Air Capture necessary?

Globally, humanity emits 51 billion tons of CO₂ every year. Over the last decades, this has had a significant impact on our climate. As a result, the average temperature on the globe has already increased by 1.3 °C and climate disasters are occurring more often.

While efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are important, it is unavoidable that we can limit global warming to below 2 °C without additional measures such as Direct Air Capture (DAC). Even if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero, there is still a large amount of carbon dioxide that has already been released into the atmosphere, known as ‘legacy emissions’. Direct Air Capture can remove this carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to limit the extent of future climate change.

What is a potential risk of Direct Air Capture technology?

A potential risk of Direct Air Capture technology is that it may be seen as a "silver bullet" solution to climate change, when in fact it should be viewed as a complementary tool to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If we rely too heavily on Direct Air Capture without also reducing emissions, we may not be able to achieve our climate goals.

Is Direct Air Capture going to save us in the climate crisis?

Direct Air Capture is one of the leading technologies to fight the climate crisis effectively. According to the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from the United Nations, DAC technology has most potential to scale to the size needed.
However, DAC technology is currently too energy intensive and too expensive. Therefore, NeoCarbon focuses on bringing down the cost of DAC technology and limiting energy usage by leveraging existing infrastructure.

What happens to the CO2 after the Direct Air Capture process?

The CO2 can either be used as input for production processes (utilization) or it can be stored permanently underground or in concrete for example (sequestration).

Utilization involves using CO2 as an input for industries such as vertical farming, concrete production, methanol production, carbonated drinks, future fuels, and chemical companies.

Sequestration involves storing CO2 for over 1000 years to combat climate change. One exemplary way to achieve this is to mix CO2 with water, where it forms stone. In addition, CO2 can also be stored permanently in nano materials and concrete.

What is the difference between carbon offsets and carbon removal?

Carbon offsets and carbon removal are both strategies used to mitigate or reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, but they differ in their approach and outcomes.

1. Carbon offsets are projects or activities that aim to compensate for or "offset" the greenhouse gas emissions produced elsewhere. The idea behind carbon offsets is that if a company can't directly reduce their own emissions, they can financially support projects that reduce emissions elsewhere. Examples of carbon offset projects include investing in renewable energy projects, forest conservation, or methane capture from landfills.

2. Carbon removal, on the other hand, focuses on physically removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it long-term. It is a more direct approach to addressing emissions. Carbon removal techniques include technologies like Direct Air Capture, enhanced weathering, and afforestation (planting trees). These methods actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere, either by capturing it directly from the air or by promoting natural processes that absorb and store carbon, such as reforestation. Unlike carbon offsets, which aim to offset emissions by supporting emission reduction elsewhere, carbon removal actively works to reduce the overall concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

In short, carbon offsets are a means to incentivize the prevention of more CO2 emissions, while carbon removal is a method of actually removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Both approaches can play a role in addressing the climate crisis, but they serve different purposes and have different outcomes.

Our technology

Why is our technology different?

Our technology differs on various points from other DAC companies. On the one hand, our retrofitting approach stands out, and on the other hand, our novel reactor design is unique in the industry.

Our retrofit philosophy of the waste heat and air flow makes us notably different from most competitors as it forces us to take a holistic approach to DAC, and include designing the whole DAC process, instead of focusing on a specific part of the DAC process. Ultimately, the retrofitting approach leads to reduced Operational- and Capital expenditure as compared to other DAC companies.

In addition, we are currently researching patent opportunities for our novel reactor design, and are close to filing this patent. For one design of our reactor, we are in a close relationship with Siemens Energy, which enables us to leverage their world-leading expertise in process engineering to develop a novel reactor enabling us to achieve optimized performances beyond what could be realistic using conventional methods.

How do you leverage cooling towers for Direct Air Capture technology?

Cooling towers can be used to reduce the energy required for Direct Air Capture technology. More specifically, it is possible to retrofit the airflow and the waste heat of the cooling tower, and thus limit the energy usage of the carbon capture modules. In addition, since we leverage existing cooling towers, we also do not have to build the industrial site where our modules will be placed, which further decreases our costs.

What is the risk of your technology?

In the coming years, we will need new product iterations and testing to build a real world hardware plant. Depending on the speed of learning there is a risk of not moving fast enough or not achieve the learning curve we want.

About NeoCarbon

When was NeoCarbon founded?

NeoCarbon was founded in January 2022 by René Haas and Silvain Toromanoff.

Why is NeoCarbon well-positioned to commercialize Direct Air Capture?

DAC technology is currently expensive, with high capital costs and significant operational expenses. NeoCarbon uses existing infrastructure in the form of cooling towers to perform DAC at a significantly lower cost cooperated to competitors, making our approach mass-market ready. More specifically; our market analysis shows that it is possible capture 1 billion tons of CO2 per year by leveraging cooling towers. However, this does not even include retrofitting other waste heat sources and smaller HVACs, meaning the full potential of addressing the climate crisis with our technology is way larger.