Joining the push for carbon-neutrality, Southern California Gas Company said Tuesday that it has contributed about $650,000 to researching new technology that would capture carbon dioxide from the air while also collecting water that can be reused for irrigation.
The new technology — called Isothermal Water Vapor and CO2 Capture, or IWVC — is analogous to an air purifier, only on a much larger scale.
The technology is not related to the delivery of gas. The utility is just helping fund the $3.2 million project, which also received money from the U.S. Department of Energy, a company spokesman said.
According to a company statement, the testing that’s planned will provide insights into the technology’s efficiency and operating costs as it’s eyed for possible wider deployment.
“The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency highlight the need for carbon management tools to meet our Paris Agreement commitments,” said Neil Navin, vice president of clean energy innovations at SoCalGas.
“By helping jumpstart this technology we aim to help California reach its 100% net-zero goals more affordably, more equitably, and with less risk of power disruptions, customer conversion barriers and technological limitations,” he added.
The company said a new “economy-wide technical analysis released by SoCalGas last month revealed that carbon management tools, like direct air capture when combined with electrification and clean fuels like hydrogen and renewable natural gas deliver the most affordable, resilient, and technologically proven path to full carbon neutrality.”
The IWVC technology was conceived at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and is being commercialized by Los Angeles-based start-up Avnos Inc.
“We’re confident that the demonstration testing of this breakthrough technology will prove what our modeling indicates — collecting significant amounts of water while pulling carbon dioxide from the air results in the most flexible and cost-effective solution in the DAC (Direct Air Capture) market,” said Will Kain, CEO of Avnos.
“We believe that at scale this technology has the potential to generate approximately 15 million gallons of water a day while removing 1.8 million tons of CO2 from the air each year in a single system — the equivalent of taking more than 390,000 cars off the road for a year,” he added.
The technology operates with a two-stage vacuum process using devices that first attract and bind water vapor and carbon dioxide, then condenses the water out and compresses the carbon dioxide for transport, storage, or use to make fuel or other products.
The demonstration-scale system is designed to capture about 80 kg of carbon dioxide and about 1,000 liters of water daily.
Once design and development activities are completed, the demonstration system will be fabricated and then tested in Southern California. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2023.
SoCalGas said a 2020 study from the Lawrence Livermore National Lab found that carbon capture technology will be necessary to meet the state’s carbon neutral goals.
The recently signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $12.5 billion for the research and development of carbon capture programs, including $2.1 billion for CO2 transport infrastructure projects. It also supports regionalized carbon capture centers.