Air Carbon Capture BHP Carbon Engineering Chevron Climate Change co2 emissions Coal David Keith Fossil Fuels Mark Z. Jacobson Natural Gas Occidental Oil Technology Waste Reduction

Chevron’s Fig Leaf Part 5: Who Is Behind Carbon Engineering, & What Do Experts Say?

Chevron's Fig Leaf Part 5: Who Is Behind Carbon Engineering, & What Do Experts Say?

April 20th, 2019 by Michael Barnard 

Carbon Engineering just lately garnered $68 million in investment in its air-carbon seize know-how from three fossil gasoline majors. That is the final article in the 5-part collection assessing the know-how and the value of the funding.

Professor David W. Keith

The first piece summarized the know-how and the challenges, and did a bottoms-up evaluation to provide context for what Carbon Engineering is definitely doing. The second piece stepped via Carbon Engineering’s actual answer intimately. The third piece returned to the insurmountable drawback of scale and offers with the sheer volume of air that have to be moved and the size of equipment they’ve designed for the purpose. The fourth article looked at the market for air carbon seize CO2 and assessed why three fossil gasoline majors is perhaps interested. The ultimate article addresses the important thing individual behind this know-how, David Keith, and the skilled opinions of third events.

As a reminder of what the collection has discovered, the Carbon Engineering answer would use a 2-kilometer lengthy, 20-meter excessive wall of noisy followers to seize 4 orders of magnitude too little CO2 to make a difference while burning natural fuel adequate for 70,000 households and producing half a ton of CO2 from the fuel for each ton it captures from the air. Oh, and the only actual use for it is to plant it on played-out oil wells to get extra carbon-rich oil from them, main to precisely zero advantages.

Who came up with this concept?

So we now have a know-how that burns a lot natural fuel that they produce and should capture 500 tons of CO2 for every 1,000 they capture from the air. And its natural market is to extend oil extraction. And the choice to do nothing is free and has lower internet carbon emissions. Why would anyone assume this can be a good concept? It’s a very sensible dangerous answer, however deeply unwise should you truly care about international warming.

Enter Dr. David W. Keith, stage proper. He’s the first engineer behind Carbon Engineering. His identify is on the revealed papers. He’s mentioned in all the articles. He’s chief scientist and on the Board of Directors. He’s a very brilliant, very credentialed, very related guy. He took first in Canada’s national physics competition, picked up an MIT prize for experimental physics, and Time Magazine picked him as certainly one of its Heroes of the Setting.

Wait. What? The man who just bought a net-loss air carbon capture know-how using pure fuel to people who will use it for enhanced oil restoration is a Hero of the Setting? Why does that sound so familiar? Maybe it’s because I’ve revealed a collection of items lately on the ill-founded, cherry-picked, and biased views of one other of Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Surroundings, Michael Shellenberger, who additionally doesn’t like renewable power as an answer, preferring nuclear instead. What is it with Time Journal’s HotEs that they get things flawed so badly?

Dr. Keith has recreation on this regard. He runs The Keith Group, affiliated with Harvard and funded by a bunch of parents including the Gates Basis (which really should look twice at giving money to it) and is dedicated to a concentrate on the science and public policy of solar geoengineering.

What’s photo voltaic geoengineering? That’s placing plenty of stuff within the environment to avert warming by masking the consequences of CO2, which most ethicists and pragmatists agree will do three things. First, it is going to imply we maintain burning fossil fuels and growing the CO2 focus of the environment additional with all the detriments to marine life and different things that comes with that. Second, it is going to be an expensive, annual value which should be carried out just about endlessly which we’ll cease doing and lead to one other large warming spell. And eventually, it’s going to have large unknown and exhausting to predict impacts on our ecosystems and the like.

It’s an incredible factor to analysis, however a terrible factor to do. Keith is a robust advocate at prime policy ranges for solar geoengineering. Fossil-fuel corporations love geoengineering. Some engineer varieties love geoengineering. The remainder of the world rightly considers it akin to open coronary heart surgical procedure by a 9-year-old without anesthesia and would like to easily cease emitting CO2 as an alternative. If we ever resort to geoengineering, we’ve failed.

However there’s extra about Dr. Keith. Not long ago he co-authored a research with one of the members of his geoengineering group stating that wind farms would create international warming. Yes, that’s proper. One of many major solutions to CO2 emissions from fossil fuels is definitely a problem, based on Keith. He and his collaborator’s considering was deeply shoddy and much mocked when it got here out. Once again, that paper was in Joule, the no-impact-factor, brand-new journal that his newest Carbon Engineering paper is in. Maybe there’s something to be discovered from that? The co-author of the wind-farms cause international warming nonsense paper, Lee Miller, was lead writer with Keith as co-author in one other much-derided assault on wind power, claiming it had large limits to the power to offer power.

Principally, Keith actually doesn’t perceive or like renewables but loves fossil fuels, and is constructing a fig leaf for the fossil gasoline business. As I stated, very sensible however not very sensible.

Who else is stating that this emperor has no clothes?

Nicely, returning to Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson, who was quoted within the first article within the collection, he doesn’t embrace air carbon capture in his models for a 100% renewable future. He’s globally acknowledged for his group’s modeling of 100% renewables by 2050 for all US states and nearly all of nations globally, offering a transparent and smart coverage path. Why doesn’t Jacobson embrace air carbon capture? He explains it in Why Not Artificial Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (SDACCS) as Part of a 100% Wind-Water-Solar (WWS) and Storage Answer to International Warming, Air Air pollution, and Power Security .

By removing CO2 from the air, SDACCS does precisely what WWS turbines, akin to wind generators and photo voltaic panels, do. It’s because WWS turbines substitute fossil turbines, stopping CO2 from moving into the air in the first place. The impression on climate of removing one molecule of CO2 from the air is identical as the influence of stopping one molecule from moving into the air in the first place.

The variations between WWS turbines and SDACCS gear, although, are that the WWS turbines additionally (a) remove non-CO2 air pollutants from fossil gasoline combustion; (b) remove the upstream mining, transport, and refining of fossil fuels and the corresponding emissions; (c) largely scale back the pipeline, refinery, fuel station, tanker truck, oil tanker, and coal practice infrastructure of fossil fuels; (d) largely remove oil spills, oil fires, fuel leaks, and fuel explosions; (e) substantially scale back international conflicts over power; (f) scale back the large-scale blackout danger because of the distributed nature of many WWS technologies; and so-on.

SDACCS does none of that. Its sole profit is to take away CO2 from the air. To try this, it prices greater than renewable power.

Triggered in minor half by this collection of articles, Dr. Jacobson updated his calculations based mostly on using fuel era by Carbon Engineering, and offered an up to date perspective.

Within the case where the CO2 is captured from the fuel plant, 36% of all CO2 captured is successfully re-emitted to the air. The direct value of CO2 captured from the ambient air per unit grid power used to supply the CO2 continues to be 2.2 to 10 occasions the cost of preventing the emissions in the first place with a wind turbine. The air pollution plus power social value of this SCACCS system is $192 to $398/MWh larger than that of wind.

In sum, as long as grid emissions happen, SDACCS will all the time improve air air pollution regardless of how low its value, and SDACCS will all the time improve CO2e emissions till its direct value is far decrease than that of WWS technologies. Further, it all the time increases the mining, transport, and processing of fossil fuels in contrast with using WWS as an alternative.

All of that electrical energy that’s used to move all that air to seek out the 411 elements per million could possibly be used for productive functions and be far more efficient at removing CO2 from the air along with a bunch of other benefits. Appears obvious. To not David Keith or his fossil gasoline sponsors although.

What about carbon seize at fossil gasoline supply of era of electricity as an alternative? You realize, the place all that CO2 is concentrated in the first place? Nicely, a current research led by Sgouris Sgouridis at Khalifa College in Abu Dhabi discovered it wasn’t worthwhile either.

“We show that constructing CCS power plants for electricity generation is generally worse than building renewable energy plants, even when we include the effects of storage systems like batteries and hydrogen,” says Sgouridis. The researchers additionally talk about vital challenges that CCS promoters would wish to deal with to upscale the know-how sufficiently for it to grow to be helpful. “These challenges should make the energy policy community very apprehensive about relying on such a solution rather than considering it as a last resort,” Sgouridis says.

That 50% of natural fuel CO2 emissions required to gasoline the Carbon Engineering air carbon capture? That’s what the Sgouridis paper is talking about; it’s the same factor. Modeling and peer-reviewed analysis is displaying that even the 97.5% CO2 capture from the pure fuel mixed warmth and energy answer isn’t value it.

The primary rule of being deep in a gap is to cease digging. Wind and photo voltaic electricity being used for productive purposes is a lot better than using it for air carbon seize. It’s not like the jury is out on this, apart from individuals like David Keith and Chevron.


This concludes the 5-part evaluation of Carbon Engineering’s answer, market and buyers.

Air carbon capture, particularly as Carbon Engineering is doing it, is a fig leaf for the fossil gasoline business. It gained’t and may’t scale to the dimensions of the issue. There isn’t a use for the size of CO2 that may be created to be able to be usefully effective. Carbon Engineering’s answer produces half as a lot CO2 as it captures from the natural fuel it makes use of. It might require the natural fuel for 70,000 households’ annual use to get one million tons of CO2, making it far more a new market for pure fuel than a solution to international warming. The whole CO2 load for the power required for capture, processing, compression, storage, distribution, and sequestration is nearly sure to be larger than the CO2 removed from the environment. It’s simpler to get CO2 from biomass, or just bury the biomass, than to do air carbon seize. And it’s far more environment friendly to only not emit the CO2 in the first place.

No marvel Chevron, Occidental, and BHP adore it a lot that they have been prepared to offer the company $68 million to play with.

References and Hyperlinks:

[1] Carbon Engineering: CO2 capture and the synthesis of unpolluted transportation fuels

[2] Capturing Carbon Would Value Twice The International Annual GDP

[3] No, Magnesite Isn’t The Magic CO2 Sequestration Answer Both

[4] Air Carbon Capture’s Scale Drawback: 1.1 Astrodomes For A Ton Of CO2

[5] Carbon Seize Is Expensive As a result of Physics

[6] Mark Z. Jacobson – Wikipedia

[7] Local weather change ‘magic bullet’ gets increase

[8] Low-Emitting Electricity Production

[9] A Course of for Capturing CO2 from the Environment

[10] Joule

[11] Page on

[12] An air-liquid contactor for large-scale capture of CO2 from air

[13] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

[14] Elements Sales Fill

[15] How much air, by mass, enters a mean CFM56 turbofan engine cruising per minute?

[16] An air-liquid contactor for large-scale capture of CO2 from air

[17] International Thermostat

[18] Graciela Chichilnisky – Wikipedia

[19] Earth and Environmental Sciences

[20] Europe Stores Electricity in Fuel Pipes

[21] The Bodily CO2 Market

[22] DigiTool Stream Gateway Error

[23] How a lot CO2 produced by burning one barrel of oil – since 2011


[25] Harvard John A. Paulson Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences

[26] Public Worry Of Nuclear Isn’t Why Nuclear Power Is Fading

[27] US Might Achieve 3X As Much CO2 Financial savings With Renewables As an alternative Of Nuclear For Much less Cash

[28] US Commentators Point At Germany For Dangerous Power Insurance policies, But Stay In Glass Houses

[29] Michael Shellenberger – Wikipedia

[30] The Keith Group

[31] Geoengineering Is Not a Answer to Climate Change

[32] Large-scale US wind power might trigger vital warming

[33] Two methods for estimating limits to large-scale wind energy era


[35] The catch with carbon catching



Tags: Air Carbon Seize, BHP, Carbon Engineering, Chevron, David Keith, Mark Z. Jacobson, Occidental

Concerning the Writer

Michael Barnard is Chief Strategist with TFIE Strategy Inc. He works with startups, present companies and buyers to determine opportunities for vital bottom line progress and price takeout in our quickly reworking world. He is editor of The Future is Electrical, a Medium publication. He commonly publishes analyses of low-carbon know-how and coverage in websites including Newsweek, Slate, Forbes, Huffington Publish, Quartz, CleanTechnica and RenewEconomy, and his work is recurrently included in textbooks. Third-party articles on his analyses and interviews have been revealed in dozens of stories websites globally and have reached #1 on Reddit Science. Much of his work originates on, where Mike has been a Prime Writer annually since 2012. He’s out there for consulting engagements, speaking engagements and Board positions.

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