Air carriers invest in carbon capture tech

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by Emily Atkins

Air Canada and Airbus have announced they are investing in Canadian climate solutions company Carbon Engineering (CE).

Air Canada is making an equity investment/loan of $6.75 million, while Airbus did not disclose its level of participation.

The investment supports the advancement of CE’s Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology at the company’s research facility in Squamish, B.C.

According to CE, their process uses large fans to pull in air and then, through a series of processes, extracts the CO2 while returning the other air components to the environment. The captured atmospheric CO2 can be used to reduce aviation emissions by producing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) that can be drop-in compatible with today’s aircraft. The captured CO2 can also be safely and durably stored in geologic reservoirs to provide carbon dioxide removals that can used to offset GHG emissions.

As the aviation industry cannot capture all CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere at source, captured atmospheric CO2 can also be safely and permanently stored in geologic reservoirs. This carbon removal solution would allow the sector to extract the equivalent amount of emissions from its operations directly from the air, thereby counterbalancing residual emissions.

Under its Climate Action Plan, Air Canada has committed to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. To help achieve this goal, the company created a $50 million investment fund to support new technologies.

The $6.75 million being invested in CE comes from this fund and follows on an earlier announcement by Air Canada that it is investing US$5 million in Heart Aerospace, a Swedish company developing electric hybrid aircraft.

“We remain focused on seeking innovative, long-term, sustainable GHG emissions reduction solutions for aviation, and carbon capture is one we have outlined in our strategy to achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Last year, we became the first Canadian airline to sign an MOU with CE to explore carbon capture scalability and other initiatives for our industry. We are proud to invest in CE to further advance new, transformational technologies towards carbon removal commercially,” said Michael Rousseau, president and CEO at Air Canada.

Air Canada has committed to net-zero GHG emissions from all its global operations by 2050, with absolute mid-term GHG net reduction targets by 2030 of 20 percent from air operations and 30 percent from ground operations compared to its 2019 baseline.

The investment in Carbon Engineering is part of Airbus’s global climate strategy, which encourages the development and deployment of direct air capture technology, among a number of technological pathways in support of the aviation industry’s decarbonization ambitions. The transaction is also a key element of Airbus’ strategy to grow its contribution to the Canadian economy. Airbus supports the recently-launched Clean Technology Key Industrial Capability in Canada, under the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy.

“We are proud to be investing in Carbon Engineering, reaffirming our commitment to the use of direct air carbon capture as a two-fold solution for the decarbonization of the aviation industry,” said Karine Guenan, VP ZEROe Ecosystem, Airbus.