ExxonMobil Partners on Tech for Carbon Dioxide Capture, Storage

The breakthrough technology can capture and concentrate carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere and industrial sources—including power plants.

ExxonMobil carbon capture

Irving-based energy giant ExxonMobil has signed an agreement with Global Thermostat, a New York-based technology company. Together, the partners plan to advance breakthrough technology that can capture and concentrate carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere and industrial sources—including power plants—with the goal of slowing climate change.

The companies said they are working to evaluate the potential scalability of Global Thermostat’s carbon capture technology for large industrial use. Should the technical readiness and scalability of the technology be determined, pilot projects at ExxonMobil facilities could follow, according to a press release.

“Advancing technologies to capture and concentrate carbon dioxide for storage and potential industrial use is among a suite of ExxonMobil research programs focused on developing lower-emissions solutions to mitigate the risks of climate change,” Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co., said in a statement. “Our scientists see potential in this exciting technology that could lead to more affordable methods to reduce emissions in power generation and manufacturing, along with removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

ExxonMobil also recently committed to spending as much as $100 million over 10 years with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and National Energy Technology Laboratory to research how to bring lower-emission tech to commercial scale.

ExxonMobil studying economic uses for captured carbon dioxide

Carbon capture and storage is a method in which waste carbon dioxide is captured from large emission sources and transported to storage sites without ever entering the atmosphere. Often, the storage sites are in underground geological formations.

ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, and Global Thermostat said they are looking at identifying potential economic uses for the captured and stored carbon dioxide.

“Scaling solutions that can address climate change globally requires significant investment, innovation, and collaboration,” Peter Eisenberger, chief technology officer and co-founder of Global Thermostat, said in a statement. Global Thermostat is a company designed to pioneer the development and commercialization of a technology for the direct capture of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and other sources.

He said that Global Thermostat’s direct-air capture and flue gas capture technologies are a way “to transform the risks associated with carbon dioxide emissions into a global solution that could satisfy both business and environmental objectives.”

Commercial applications may be more practical that one might think.

The publication Quartz reported last year that there were 17 large-scale carbon dioxide capture plants in the world, most of them in the United States. Those plants put away roughly 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or about 1 percent of global annual emissions.

The report, titled “Making Carbon a Commodity,” came from ClearPath and the Carbon Utilization Research Council. It suggests that, should the US government deploy the right policies, markets will drive the growth of carbon capture technology and implementation. The report also estimates that accelerated research, development, and deployment of the technology could add, by 2040, $190 billion to the nation’s annual gross domestic product and 780,000 jobs.

Partnership harnesses companies’ expertise

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are at the highest levels than in the past 800,000 years, National Geographic reported earlier this year. Those gases’ ability to trap heat is a leading cause of climate change.

Eisenberg said that Global Thermostat intends to harness the expertise and capabilities of ExxonMobil to accelerate its technology vision. ExxonMobil said the partnership expands its collaborative efforts with other companies and academic institutions that focus on developing new energy technologies, improving energy efficiency, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. 

Matt Myers, vice president of Dallas-based EarthxCapital, said the earth is in the midst of the planet’s sixth mass extinction because of the historic amount of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

“In addition to embracing new methods of energy production, carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) is also required as part of humanity’s ‘silver buckshot’ approach to mitigate climate change,” Myers told Dallas Innovates via email.

He said the fossil fuel industry is using CCUS technology to improve the productivity of hydraulic fracturing operations, which reduces CCUS’ net impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

“However, without a national carbon price, applying CCUS to the fossil fuel industry is our best bet at commercializing such technologies,” Myers said. 

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