£3 million funding for direct air capture technology in the UK

Smart DAC

Almost £3 million in funding has been secured for the direct air capture technology, SMART-DAC, developed by start-up firm CO₂CirculAir BV. It was awarded through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) from BEIS.

The technology is supported by five UK consortium partners, including the Net Zero Technology Centre, Process Design Centre, Herriot Watt University, Optimus Plus, and B9 Energy Storage.

The novel SMART-DAC technology uses membrane gas absorption and membrane electrolysis regeneration to capture and separate CO₂ from the air, creating a continuous absorption cycle.

Using wind circulation to push air through the system and being powered using green energy, SMART-DAC is said to be a cost-effective, zero emissions solution providing continuous CO₂ capture. The CO₂ captured can be reused as a carbon source for sustainable chemicals and synthetic fuels to replace fossil fuels and create a short carbon cycle or stored to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere permanently.

The consortium secured the funding as part of the Greenhouse Gas Removals (GGR)Innovation Competition. It will support the construction of a pilot plant that will begin testing in spring 2023, capturing a minimum of 100 tonnes of CO₂ per annum. The plant will be situated in Larne, Northern Ireland, at the B9 Energy Storage offices, where B9 will draw on nearly 30 years of renewables sector experience to develop this technology to the next stage and potentially incorporate it into their existing portfolio of projects.

Iain Martin, Project Manager at the Net Zero Technology Centre, said:

“The SMART-DAC project is a significant opportunity for Scotland to capitalise on the engineering strengths and capabilities of the existing offshore energy sector. We are delighted to have secured £3 million in funding from BEIS for the project. Meeting the UK’s net zero targets by 2050 represents a significant challenge. The widespread adoption of CCUS technologies, which can remove current and historical emissions from the atmosphere, will have a significant role in achieving our emissions goals. Successful demonstration, with industry support, of the novel technology at the pilot scale is an essential first step on the road to scaling up and commercialisation”.

Jeffrey Felix, CEO at the CO₂CirculAir, said:

“We are thrilled to be given the opportunity to further develop our SMART-DAC technology in the UK. Extracting CO₂ from the air and using it as a future carbon source, replacing the use of fossil fuels, creates a short energy cycle essential to achieving net zero. The reaction from the younger generation when we explain our technology is exhilarating. This generation will indeed benefit most from our efforts to tackle climate change. A big thank you to BEIS, our consortium members and all individual supporters of our technology.”

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said:

“This £54 million government investment announced today [13 July] will help establish a greenhouse gas removal industry in the UK, which could be worth billions to our economy, bringing in private investment and supporting the creation of new green jobs”.