Air Canada is among the major global carriers betting on direct air carbon capture and storage to help shrink the industry’s massive emissions footprint. While the technology is still in its infancy, it could play a critical role given the challenge of replacing large fossil fuel burning jets.
Kevin Krausert is CEO and co-founder of Avatar Innovations, a Calgary-based venture capital firm and startup accelerator that pairs entrepreneurs with the biggest companies in Canada’s energy patch.
“If you could get the cost of direct air capture down to a point where it was more competitive than some of these sustainable aviation fuels or hydrogen solutions, then you would have a panace,” he told Yahoo Finance Canada’s Editor’s Edition. “You’d need a big breakthrough in the technology to bring the costs in line.”
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Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.
JEFF LAGERQUIST: Obviously, we're not talking about capturing the carbon out of the air as the plane is flying by. I suppose these would be installations at airports and other places like that. Do you think that could work?
KEVIN KRAUSERT: Well, I think specifically what they're looking at is direct air capture. So that's pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere. And there is technologies that can do so. There's two major global companies, one of which is Canadian Carbon Engineering that can do this at scale.
And Elon Musk just put $100 million into incentivizing direct air capture processes through his XPRIZE. Right now, it is far more expensive. You're basically fighting thermodynamics with direct air capture.
We're going to combust CO2, put it in the atmosphere and then pull it out later. Basic thermodynamics suggest that's a difficult way. But if you could get the cost of direct air capture down to a point that it was more competitive than some of these sustainable aviation fuels or hydrogen solutions, then you would have a panacea as opposed to us sitting white-knuckled in a hydrogen airplane for the first time. You could just run it and pull the CO2 out. But while the numbers I've seen on direct air capture, they vary widely. And so you'd need a big breakthrough in the technology to bring the costs in line. But if you could, yeah, it would be a bit of a panacea for the airline industry status quo.