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This Is CDR Episode 34: Mission Zero with Dr. Nicholas Chadwick

This Is CDR is an ongoing series of online events to explore the range of carbon dioxide removal solutions that are currently in development. This week, we get a briefing...

This Is CDR is an ongoing series of online events to explore the range of carbon dioxide removal solutions that are currently in development. This week, we get a briefing on the carbon-removal startup Mission Zero from its CEO, Dr. Nicholas Chadwick.

Mission Zero is taking a pragmatic and focused approach to CDR. As Dr. Chadwick observes, lithium ion batteries took 60 years to go from a proven concept to an actual ubiquitous technology. With carbon removal, we don’t have 60 years, so we need to tackle the problem head-on.

With that in mind, Dr. Chadwick and his colleagues decided to start with the idea of what a “holy grail” CDR solution would look like. They talked to companies already buying CO2 as a commodity about what frustrates them and what they need. Many noted that if they could capture their own CO2 on-site, it would solve a lot of logistical problems with delivery. They also requested a CO2 source that could be powered by electricity only, with no reliance on waste heat; that could make economic sense at any scale, from a thousand tons a year up to gigatons; and that could provide a continuous, uninterrupted supply of material.

With these goals in mind, Mission Zero built a design out of off-the-shelf components, incorporating technology that’s already used worldwide for water purification. Their system uses water with a carbon-capture additive, is powered entirely by electricity with no heat requirements, captures 75% of CO2 from incoming air, and produces CO2 at 98% purity. Off-the-shelf helps a lot here. Supply chains for these components already exist all over the world. If you don’t need bespoke technology, you can scale a lot faster.

On that note, Mission Zero just received a million-dollar grant from XPRIZE for a proof-of-concept plant in the Al-Hajar mountains of Oman.(Oman comes up a lot in CDR discussions because its peridotite-rich geology is ideal for sequestering carbon.) Starting in 2024, the plant will sequester 1000 tons of CO2 per year. The company’s goal is to have the CO2 processing and the renewable energy generation to power it all located at the same site; Dr. Chadwick says that the infrastructure to capture 1000 tons per year should fit within a few shipping containers. We’ll be very interested to follow their progress! In the meantime, watch the presentation above to learn more, and you can also catch up with the full series on our resources page.

Peter Malamud Smith Peter Malamud Smith is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn.

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