As a part of President Biden’s Investing in America initiative, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has declared its commitment to allocate up to $1.2bn towards advancing the progress of two commercial-scale direct air capture facilities situated in Texas and Louisiana.

These ventures, marking the first of their magnitude within the US, have been chosen as the initial recipients of funding from the Regional Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hubs programme—a key component of the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The primary objective of this programme is to establish a network of extensive carbon removal sites nationwide, aimed at addressing historical carbon dioxide pollution, aligning with swift emissions reduction efforts.

Through the creation of these Hubs, a considerable emphasis will be placed on fostering meaningful community engagement and labour participation, thereby dovetailing with the President’s Justice40 Initiative. In tandem, these initiatives are forecasted to eliminate over 2 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually—equivalent to the yearly emissions generated by approximately 445,000 cars fueled by gasoline. Additionally, this endeavour is poised to generate 4,800 well-paying employment opportunities in the states of Texas and Louisiana.

Notably, each established Hub is slated to eventually surpass the carbon dioxide removal capacity of the most sizeable existing Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility by over 250-fold.

This endeavour also positions the US to lead the global charge in pioneering future industries, aligning with the President’s ambitious aspiration of achieving a net-zero economy by 2050.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said: “Cutting back on our carbon emissions alone won’t reverse the growing impacts of climate change; we also need to remove the CO2 that we’ve already put in the atmosphere—which nearly every climate model makes clear is essential to achieving a net-zero global economy by 2050.

“With this once-in-a-generation investment made possible by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, DOE is laying the foundation for a direct air capture industry crucial to tackling climate change—transforming local economies and delivering healthier communities along the way.”

DAC, an acronym for Direct Air Capture, encompasses a process designed to extricate carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air, thereby playing a crucial role in diminishing the lingering CO2 within the atmosphere that stems from prior activities. This method involves segregating the extracted CO2, subsequently enabling its secure and enduring storage deep underground. Alternatively, it can undergo conversion into practical carbon-based products, such as concrete, which effectively prevents its reintroduction into the atmosphere.

The selected projects are Project Cypress (Calcasieu Parish, LA) and South Texas DAC Hub (Kleberg County, TX).

Spearheaded by Battelle in collaboration with Climeworks Corporation and Heirloom Carbon Technologies, Project Cypress is designed to achieve the capture of over 1 million metric tonnes of pre-existing CO2 from the atmosphere each year. This captured carbon will be permanently stored in subterranean deposits.

The South Texas DAC Hub is spearheaded by 1PointFive, a subsidiary of Occidental, in collaboration with Carbon Engineering and Worley. It aims to conceptualise and demonstrate a Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility to extract up to 1 million metric tonnes of CO2 annually, complemented by a saline geologic storage site for CO2.

In order to comprehensively evaluate the potential for future DAC Hub demonstrations, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that an additional 19 projects are selected and are now under consideration for award negotiations.