Rio Tinto to work with Carbon Capture Inc. to capture emissions at nickel project in Minnesota
CarbonCapture Inc, a California-based climate tech company announced a $35 million investment in which it will work with Rio Tinto and Talon Metals Corp. on a project to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere near the Tamarack Nickel Project in central Minnesota.
The company announced that it will use $35 million in investment to accelerate product development efforts and to establish initial deployments of its renewable energy-powered Direct Air Capture (DAC) systems in locations throughout the U.S., starting with the Tamarack Nickel Project in partnership with Rio Tinto Plc. and Talon Metals Corp.
CarbonCapture has developed a set of technical innovations that enable, for the first time, the use of zeolites for capturing CO2 as part of a commercial DAC system. A class of molecular sieves, zeolites are inorganic, inexpensive, long-lasting and non-toxic. Moreover, they are already manufactured in very large quantities for multiple industrial applications, eliminating a major barrier to economically scaling DAC to gigaton levels, the company said in a release.
“I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to lead CarbonCapture,” said CarbonCapture chief executive officer Adrian Corless. “This funding, in combination with our transformative technology, world-class team, and top-tier commercial partners, provides us with all of the necessary ingredients to quickly become the leading DAC company in the U.S.” Corless was formerly CEO of Canadian DAC company Carbon Engineering, where he successfully piloted the firm’s technology and built the company into a recognized leader in atmospheric carbon capture and synthetic fuels production.
Prime Movers Lab led the Series A investment. Also participating in the round was Rio Tinto, Idealab Studio, Idealab X, Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures, and several additional VC firms and family offices. Equity financing raised by CarbonCapture since inception now totals more than $43 million.
“By 2050, DAC companies will capture upwards of 5 to10 gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year. We are honored to participate in the very early stages of a new $500 billion plus industry,” said Brandon Simmons, general partner at Prime Movers Lab. “We identified Carbon Capture Inc. as having the winning tech and team in the field, and we are thrilled to partner with Adrian Corless and Bill Gross and provide the capital to scale this critical enterprise.”
“Removing carbon from our atmosphere is one of the most effective and important ways to fight climate change,” said Marc Benioff. “Carbon Capture Inc. represents the spirit of innovation we need to solve our climate crisis, harnessing next-generation technologies to take carbon out of the atmosphere and avert the worst effects of climate change.”
In addition to being designed to use renewable energy sources, including solar and geothermal, a unique aspect of CarbonCapture’s DAC machines is that they are highly tunable. For example, for each ton of CO2 captured from air, they can be set to also capture between 1 and 5 tons of pure water, which is particularly valuable in arid or drought-affected regions. Further, CO2 output purity can be lowered to align with storage strategies that do not require food-grade purity, such as injection into building materials, mine tailings, or geologic formations that mineralize CO2.
CarbonCapture is partnering with companies that are developing cutting-edge approaches to storing carbon in mineral form through natural chemical reactions. The company’s first deployments will be with Rio Tinto and Talon Metals, with feasibility studies beginning in Q4 2021 at the Tamarack Nickel Project in central Minnesota.
“Our investment in CarbonCapture shows Rio Tinto’s commitment to supporting innovative technologies that can make a meaningful contribution to addressing the climate change challenge,” said Nigel Stewart, chief scientist at Rio Tinto. “We look forward to working with CarbonCapture to explore the potential for permanently mineralizing and storing CO2 at Rio Tinto’s sites, which may also offer new commercial opportunities.”
Photo: Core samples from the Tamarack Nickel Project