Exxon Mobil is investing in a new carbon-capture technology firm that aims to economically suck emissions out of the sky near power plants and other large industrial sources.
Exxon said it has a new joint development agreement to advance the technology with New York-based Global Thermostat, which already has a pilot plant in Alabama that uses giant fans to suck the carbon dioxide out of the sky.
The negative-emissions, direct air capture technology isn’t considered a magic bullet in the fight to prevent climate change, but one of many potential solutions that will need to implemented. Some critics though call the technology an excuse to keep relying on fossil fuels.
Exxon Mobil wants to develop the technology for much larger-scale industrial use.
“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,” said Vijay Swarup, Exxon vice president of research and development.
Global Thermostat hopes Exxon Mobil’s funding and research capabilities can help it accelerate the deployment of the technologies worldwide.
“Scaling solutions that can address climate change globally requires significant investment, innovation and collaboration,” said Peter Eisenberger, chief technology officer and co-founder of Global Thermostat.
Exxon Mobil isn’t saying how much it’s investing initially.
The Global Thermostats technology is somewhat similar to the investments that Chevron and Houston-based Occidental Petroleum are making in Canada’s Carbon Engineering, a direct air capture firm that aims to deploy carbon-capture plants near oil and gas production like West Texas’ booming Permian Basin.
Oxy said in May it is designing the first direct air capture plant in the Permian to suck carbon dioxide out of the sky and inject it into the ground to aid in oil production.
As for Global Thermostat, the company said it can deploy its technology more economically because it uses energy provided by existing residual heat – rather than electricity – to capture more carbon than industrial plants emit. That’s because the technology also sucks in additional carbon that was already in the air. The firm said its patented technology removes the carbon dioxide from ambient air or other sources utilizing readily available, low-cost process heat.
Unlike other costly carbon-capture projects that require redesigning existing coal power plants, Global Thermostat said its technology can be retrofitted to work on any existing plants at much lower costs.
Apart from power plants, the technology would work on other industrial facilities such as petrochemical, steel and cement plants.
Exxon Mobil said this partnership fits with its recent announcement to invest $100 million over 10 years in emissions-reduction technologies at some of the nation’s top energy research labs.