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Direct Air Capture
Accelerating Decarbonization with Direct Air Capture

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, Ph.D.

Decarbonization is the driving tenet of our sustainable energy future and a key goal in the battle against climate change. NETL scientists and engineers are hard at work developing and advancing the technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle and enable environmental sustainability for all Americans. A key technology among these critical innovations is direct air capture (DAC).  

DAC technologies use chemical reactions to pull CO2 directly out of the air independent of point sources. In fact, a DAC plant can be situated in any location that has a low-carbon energy source to power its operation and accessibility to a secure CO2 storage resource or conversion opportunity. DAC technologies will be critical for counterbalancing the hard-to-decarbonize sectors like agriculture, shipping, and aviation and addressing legacy emissions, which are more technically challenging compared to point-source carbon capture systems designed for power plants or industrial facilities. 

NETL researchers are leading the way in DAC technologies that, once commercialized, can help meet our climate goals over the coming decades. A new facility being established at NETL’s Pittsburgh campus will jumpstart the development of DAC technologies that can provide new economic opportunities while lowering the quantities of CO2 in the planet’s atmosphere.

The new NETL Direct Air Capture Center is scheduled to come online during the summer of 2024 and will accelerate the commercialization of DAC technologies by enabling better understanding of how various DAC technologies respond in different climates, from summer to winter and arid to tropical.

The center is envisioned to be the gold standard in technology performance characterization as we collaborate with our partners to explore the potential of their diverse direct air capture concepts.

Throughout March, we’re featuring a few of NETL’s DAC projects and successes. Visit our website and social media platforms to learn more about how NETL: 

  • Will provide technical support and expertise to award the American-Made Direct Air Capture Prizes, a series of interconnected competitions offering up to $115 million to advance CO2 removal technologies from hard-to-decarbonize sectors of the U.S. economy. 
  • Is helping establish four new regional direct air capture hubs around the U.S. to demonstrate how the innovative CO2 removal technology can be put to work curbing the world’s climate crisis. 
  • Manages projects that are advancing new DAC tests in California and Alabama that are helping to realize a carbon-neutral economy and energy sector to address the effects of climate change. 

These features are just a snapshot of NETL’s leading edge work in decarbonization and the many innovations our world-class researchers are advancing to mitigate climate change. I invite you to read more about these and other technologies on the NETL website.