Airbus Invests In Carbon Capture Pioneer

Carbon Engineering
Carbon Engineering plans multi-megaton deployments based on a DAC plant that removes 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
Credit: Carbon Engineering

Airbus and Air Canada have invested in Canada’s Carbon Engineering, a pioneer in direct air capture of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) for permanent underground storage or use in production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Squamish, British Columbia-based Carbon Engineering (CE) is the technology provider to 1PiontFive, a carbon capture, utilization and sequestration company that plans to deploy at least 70 direct air capture (DAC) plants globally by 2035, each with a capacity of 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year.

With an increase in global policy incentives and voluntary demand for DAC, 1PointFive estimates up to 135 of these 1-million-ton facilities could be deployed by 2035. Global annual airline CO2 emissions are roughly 1 gigatons per year.

As SAF does not reduce inflight emissions, direct air carbon capture and storage offers airlines and manufacturers a way to extract from the air an amount of CO2 equivalent to the emissions released into the atmosphere by aircraft operations.

United Airlines is early investor in 1PiointFive, which is a subsidiary of energy company Occidental Petroleum’s Oxy Low Carbon Ventures business. In March, Airbus pre-purchased 400,000 metric tons of carbon removal credits over four years from 1PointFive’s first DAC plant, to be built in Texas.

The plant is planned to be operational in late 2024, capturing and sequestering up to 500,000 tons of CO2. Air Canada is one of seven airlines that, at the Farnborough Airshow in July, signed letters of intent with Airbus to pre-purchase the carbon removal credits to be issued by 1PointFive beginning in 2025.

Airbus has invested in Carbon Engineering under Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits policy to help meet its obligation to create more than C$2.6 billion ($2 billion) in economic value in Canada, through contracts and other investments, tied to the purchase of 16 C-285W search-and-rescue aircraft.

CE has begun work on its second U.S. site, in Kleberg County on the Texas Gulf Coast, where Oxy and 1PointFive have leased 106,000 acres. This project has the potential to remove up to 30 million metric tons of CO2 per year through DAC and store up to 30 billion tons in geologic reservoirs.

The Airbus and Air Canada investments will help fund technology development work under way at the CE Innovation Center in Squamish aimed at increasing the efficiency and reducing the cost of commercial DAC facilities deployed globally.

CE is developing a 1-million-metric-ton DAC plant that it plans to replicate for multi-million-ton deployments, beginning in Texas. The company uses a liquid solvent pathway to capture atmospheric CO2 and is testing a new material it plans to roll out by year-end that improves capture efficiency by 20%.

U.S. interest in direct air capture has been boosted by the Infrastructure Investment Act, which increased the tax credits for removing CO2 from the air to $180 per metric ton stored in geologic formations and $130/ton used in ways, such as SAF production, that result in net emission reductions.

Although less aggressive in embracing DAC than Airbus, Boeing in April announced a five-year, $10 million commitment to Yale University’s Center for Natural Carbon Capture to fund research into methods for carbon capture at scale.

The Yale Center is developing a portfolio of carbon removal strategies to capture and store CO2 from the air using natural process. Its initial focus is on near-term solutions that could capture 1 gigaton of CO2 a year, equivalent to current airline emissions.

Graham Warwick

Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.


1 Comment
Here's the always relevant question that is never addressed in articles about projects like this - How much CO2 emissions are released due to the building and operation of these plants?