Direct air capture (DAC) is playing an increasingly large role in net zero scenarios. But scalability, cost, technological readiness, and social acceptance are still evolving. In the race to net zero, will DAC be a leading technology or an expensive side quest?
To avoid catastrophic climate change, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that emission reductions won’t be enough—we must also remove up to 13 gigatons of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere annually by 2050. Enter carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) and direct air capture (DAC). Unlike CCS, which captures emissions from point sources of CO2 like smokestacks, DAC works by removing CO2 directly from the atmosphere.
Transition Pathway Principal Dr. David Layzell spoke with experts Donald Addu (Climeworks), Silvan Aeschlimann (Rocky Mountain Institute), and Emily Grubert, (University of Notre Dame), about barriers and benefits to scaling up DAC to reach net-zero goals. Read on for our highlights:
Donald Addu is a North Carolina native and a graduate of Appalachian State University with a degree in Ecology and Environmental Biology. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at North Carolina Central University. He has spent over a decade advocating for action on climate change in many different roles, including as the Senior Director of Programs for Citizens Climate Lobby, the Board Chair of CleanAireNC, and as an appointed member of the Durham City/County Environmental Affairs Board. Donald is currently the Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships for Climeworks, a Swiss based company doing direct air capture and storage of CO2, where he supports the carbon removal efforts in the Finance and Asset Management industries. Donald is an accomplished speaker, including guest lectures at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC State University, Appalachian State University, and Duke University. Donald lives in Durham with his wife, Katie Rose.
Silvan is a manager with RMI’s CDR initiative, where he leads their efforts on direct air capture and storage (DAC+S). In his role, he develops science-based roadmaps for the research, development, and deployment of these technologies and helps guide funding towards priority projects. He also supports RMI’s venture accelerator, D3, in advancing the most promising CDR start-ups in the field.
Emily Grubert is a civil engineer and environmental sociologist who studies how we can make better decisions about large infrastructure systems, particularly related to justice-centering decarbonization of the US energy system. Specifically, she studies life cycle socioenvironmental impacts associated with future policy and infrastructure and how community and societal priorities can be better incorporated into multicriteria policy and project decisions. Her major methods include scenario analysis, life cycle assessment, survey and interview research, and text mining.