The Energy Department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory is establishing a $25 million Direct Air Capture Center at the lab’s Pittsburgh campus.

The facility aims to jumpstart development of direct air capture (DAC) technologies that can lower the quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

DAC is an emerging technology that processes air from the atmosphere rather than a power plant or factory flue gas to capture CO2 emitted from multiple sources. 

Slated to come online in the summer of 2024, the facility is intended to accelerate the commercialization of DAC technologies beyond the conceptual stage. The facility is expected to provide developers with the ability to operate over a range of conditions, which could enable better understanding of how various DAC technologies respond in different climates. 

Testing systems at three scales will be included at the DAC Center: lab-scale systems designed to examine the long-term stability of DAC materials, bench-scale module testing systems capable of probing flow dynamics, and small pilot-scale skid rooms able to test prototype DAC units under a broad range of climate conditions. 

The lab has worked to expand research to capture CO2 from the flue gas streams produced by power plants and other industries and store it permanently in underground complexes and geologic reservoirs, or use it as a feedstock to produce products such as chemicals and plastics.

Data generated by the DAC Center is expected to play a role in enabling life cycle analysis (LCA) of emerging capture technologies.

LCA evaluates the environmental, economic, and social attributes of energy systems, ranging from the extraction of raw materials from the ground to the use of the energy carriers to perform work. Results of LCA are used by technology developers and investors to evaluate alternatives from a global perspective.

The lab’s Systems Engineering and Analysis team, the Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative, and the Institute for the Design of Advanced Energy Systems are all potential collaborators at the DAC Center. More information is available here.

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