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Decarbonizing through Direct Air Capture
direct air capture (DAC)

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, Ph.D.

Leading-edge carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are needed more urgently than ever before if we’re to successfully mitigate the climate crisis. NETL has been at the forefront of CCS research for decades. Now, we’re leveraging our wide-ranging expertise to advance an emerging technology area called direct air capture (DAC) and lower the cost of DAC systems. 

As the name implies, DAC is a process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from air, rather than point sources. The process generates a concentrated stream of CO2 for sequestration or utilization and can be an important technology for mitigating global climate change and achieving the Administration goals of a net-carbon-free power sector by 2035 and a net-zero energy economy by 2050. Negative emission technologies and DAC will be especially important for a net carbon zero industrial sector, which is challenging for point-source decarbonization.

Throughout June, NETL is featuring its work in DAC and a related technology called bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which involves the use of biomaterials that naturally remove CO2 during their life cycle and then are burned to generate power in systems with carbon capture and storage or converted to fuels or chemicals. For example: 

  • NETL researchers are using analytical tools and modeling to determine the efficiency and cost effectiveness of DAC technologies to help reduce greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere.
  • NETL researchers are using experimental and computational methods to design and synthesize novel materials that can become part of viable, affordable DAC processes. 
  • NETL is advancing DAC and BECCS by engaging in extramural collaborations with the private sector, academia and other national laboratories.   

DAC and BECCS technologies hold great promise in our important work to drive innovation and deliver solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. Check out our website throughout the month to read more about these topics and more.