Microsoft-backed carbon capture startup uses limestone

Scientists estimate that the globe needs to capture between 10% and 20% of the carbon from the atmosphere to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. The reality on the ground is quite different. While every industry is working to cut emissions, a few players are trying to capture it.

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One such startup is Climeworks and Carbon Engineering, which uses massive fans to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Related: Japan’s first carbon capture and storage facility to be live by 2030

However, California-based startup Heirloom has won the hearts of many with its unique approach. The startup uses limestone to capture CO2 from the atmosphere before storing the CO2 underneath the earth.

Limestone naturally holds large amounts of CO2. Heirloom simply removes CO2 out of limestone by heating the stone and turning it into powder. The powder is left hungry for CO2 and exposed to the atmosphere to capture atmospheric CO2. This process happens within just a few days, cutting down the time needed to recycle CO2 from years to days.

“We need to be removing billions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the air, and you know it’s a space that really requires lots of companies, lots of different approaches to go after,” said Heirloom CEO Shashank Samala as reported by CNBC. “We basically just give superpowers to limestone to pull a lot more CO2 much, much faster.”

The upside of Heirloom’s approach is the low cost. Most of the other approaches are quite costly. The relatively low cost of this approach has attracted the interest of several partners, including Microsoft

“We identified that Heirloom’s enhanced mineralization approach used widely available materials as passive airflow technologies, [which] means it has a potential to reach a low-cost trajectory that’s really been a challenge to this industry as a whole,” said Brandon Middaugh, director of the climate innovation fund at Microsoft.

Besides Microsoft, other companies, including Ahren Innovation Capital and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, have backed the process. It is however paramount for such processes to get governmental backing. If the globe is going to fight climate change, leaders at the national level have to tap into upcoming solutions.


Lead image via Pexels

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