Rolls-Royce Holdings plc has announced that it has secured GBP 3 million from the UK Government to build a Direct Air Capture demonstrator, which could play a vital role in mitigating global temperature rise by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
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The Direct Air Capture demonstrator funding comes from the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and helps deliver on the UK Government’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
It follows initial Phase 1 funding of GBP 250 000 awarded in 2021, which allowed Rolls-Royce to design the Direct Air Capture (DAC) demonstrator in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Every credible climate change model requires us to decarbonize today’s emissions, as well as remove CO2 already in the atmosphere via carbon-negative technologies such as DAC, said Jess Poole, Direct Air Capture Lead for Rolls-Royce.
To be built in Derby
The demonstrator, to be built in Derby, UK, will be operational during 2023 and be capable of removing more than 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year from the atmosphere.
Our system combines our expertise in moving large quantities of air efficiently and integrating complex systems, which have been gained from designing world-leading jet engines, with novel DAC technology developed by CSIRO. Together the system works like a giant lung, sucking in air, absorbing the CO2, and releasing what is not wanted, said Jess Poole.
CO2 removed from the atmosphere by such systems can be stored ensuring that it no longer contributes to global warming. It can also be recycled to make fuel for hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as aviation, enabling the more rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.
A full-scale version of this plant could remove 1 million tonnes per year. The UK’s target is to remove 25 million tons of CO2 per year by 2030, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that 980 million tonnes a year will need to be removed globally to limit global warming to 1.5 o C.
We use a water-based liquid to wash around 50 percent of the CO2 from the captured air. Our technology is distinctive because very little water is used, and the liquid is recycled at low temperatures, making it energy efficient. Other technologies consume a lot of water and require substantial amounts of energy to generate heat for the separation of CO2, Jess Poole explained.
DAC aligned with Net Zero roadmap
The development of the DAC technology concept complements the progress Rolls-Royce has made since the launch of its Net Zero roadmap in 2021.
The demonstrator system will be built and operated by an in-house team at Rolls-Royce in an existing aerospace test facility, called Test Bed 52, on its Derby campus.
This facility was previously used to test jet engines and is built for drawing in air and measuring how well new technologies perform.
This funding is great news for the team, and we’re excited about the future potential of this technology to help fight climate change, ended Jess Poole.