Comments on the American Physical Society Report on Direct Air Capture of CO2

I try to give equal access to those who want to comment professionally on reports here, here is one such example. This is commentary on the WUWT story Princeton: Direct removal of carbon dioxide from air likely not viable – Anthony

Guest post by Peter Eisenberger

Global Thermostat LLC

The American Physical Society Report on Direct Air Capture of CO2 (DAC)

follows a strange logic. It evaluates a DAC embodiment very different from ours, which no one would use, then estimates a high cost of $600 or more per metric tonne of CO2 removed. From this it concludes that DAC in general is  very costly. The report identified no technical show stoppers, and it did not raise any issues we have not considered and addressed in our research and development program. We fail to understand how the report can come to a general conclusion about the ultimate cost of DAC technology from evaluating a specific example known at the outset to be expensive.

This goes against the long history of innovation experience in which early difficult and costly processes became easy and low cost. We have in fact demonstrated proprietary breakthroughs in our pilot facilities at SRI International (see photographs) that will lead to a low cost DAC process.

However, the committee was unwilling to sign a non-disclosure agreement, thereby ensuring the nature of its conclusions at the outset. I quote from the report:

“Peter Eisenberger, David Keith, and Klaus Lackner, all three of them physicists working independently to develop field demonstrations of direct capture of CO2 from air, contributed their knowledge to this study, believing that the strategy of direct air capture needed independent evaluation. They have been extremely helpful, sharing their technical insights and giving the committee the benefit of many hours of their time. As a matter of policy the Committee sought to avoid learning any of their ideas that could not be made public.”

We even offered to privately share proprietary information, including experimental data, with a small select group of the committee to enable the committee to understand that their cost conclusions are too high by more than a factor of ten. Thus the committee, by choosing to “avoid learning…ideas that could not be made public,” cut itself off from the only information that could help them determine the true potential of DAC. I note that the prestigious Royal Society of England did a study of DAC where they included the following statement in their report:

“ Proposals for new methods [of air capture] are still appearing (confidential submissions received) and it is very likely that substantial cost reductions are possible in future.”

The APS report also states, “No demonstration or pilot-scale DAC system has yet been deployed anywhere on earth…” . The photographs of our pilot unit show the existence of a unit that development engineers characterize as “pilot-scale.”

Readers may be interested to learn that there is no current public funding for DAC because of past vigorous opposition by experts pursuing flue gas capture of CO2 from fossil fuel power generation plants. Many of the experts on the APS panel and those who testified to the panel are working on flue gas capture, some with processes they are commercializing. Our efforts are totally supported by private investors. Unfortunately, DAC is often mistakenly viewed as competitive with flue gas capture of CO2 when it is in fact strategically and technically very different. In particular DAC can also be driven with renewable energy and has the potential to actually reduce the ambient CO2 concentration while flue gas capture can only slow its increase.

We believe that DAC has the potential to provide an important option for reducing CO2, while maintaining access to low cost energy needed for global economic development. We will in due course issue a public release of our approach, and we will let the facts speak for themselves.

Those interested in learning more about our efforts are welcome to visit our website at

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40 shades of green
May 13, 2011 10:33 pm

This report reminds me if the conflicted WHO panel that assessed the threat of swine flu.
Maybe all important scientific panels should be made up if retired professors.
40 Shades

May 13, 2011 10:33 pm

Peter, keep me off your list of person’s to remove their CO2 emissions. Thank you anyway for the offer. I’m breathing easier now and so are my plants.
Besides, I think I may have just proven that both water vapor and carbon dioxide have little to do with our atmosphere’s energy budget, ever, as long as long as we don’t mess too much with its total mass.
Sorry if I have messed up your business plan, it wasn’t personal, just science.

Cecil Coupe
May 13, 2011 10:52 pm

Is this going to be a food fight between warmist capitalists from academia and “pure” warmist academics with no skin in the game? A lukewarmers dilemma for sure. Could be fun to watch.
I’ve done enough business proposals and evaluations to recognize the pattern. Will this investment fly without government dictates?

May 13, 2011 11:01 pm

This is something a bit different, generating H2 gas through electrolysis by wind or solar power. Then CO2 is added to produce Methane CH4.
That would be a very elegant way to solve the main problem of solar and wind energy – storage. However, no information about cost.

Steve R
May 13, 2011 11:02 pm

Geez. I sure hope it doesn’t work. What if They decide to deploy it large scale and bring CO2 concentrations down below 300? Think we can feed everyone on the planet with ice age like concentrations of CO2? This is where the true AGW believers and those just riding the AGW gravy train might part ways.

Doubting Thomas
May 13, 2011 11:05 pm

Where’s the beef? How much energy is required to remove how much CO2? And what about capital costs? If that massive contraption is removing 700 tons a year, you would need almost two of them for every automobile on the road (EPA website, google “annual carbon emissions from a car”). Trees would probably be far cheaper and they’re certainly much prettier.
The offer “to privately share proprietary information […] with a small select group” smells wrong. Secret, proprietary, processes, that are publicly promoted but can’t be disclosed, are too often fraudulent. Toss in a glitzy website, devoid of any real information, and the fact that there’s a CO2-emitting, oxygen-sucking investor born every minute …
They should file the patent and show us the process. Patents are cheep.
Scientist can provide a valuable service to society but often they end up just churning data and getting nowhere. Housekeepers and gardeners also provide valuable services to society. And every working hour they produce tangible results. Sometimes I wonder if our collective quality of life would be improved if most scientists (and bureaucrats and tax accountants, etc.) were put to work mopping floors and mowing lawns.
I’m not saying we should do that. I just wonder sometimes.

May 13, 2011 11:07 pm

Paper is the direct removal of carbon from the atmosphere. Plant fast growing trees, make paper, have that paper perform some useful function in the economy, then when you are done with it, find a way to sequester it from the atmosphere. Best places are probably deep under water or in old coal or limestone mines to replace the extracted carbon.
Just stop recycling paper. Since paper is mostly from farmed trees anyway it would have no real impact on “wild” forests. Paper is a crop like corn. We can either fill in these old mines, even strip mines, with compressed paper slurry, we replace the carbon that was taken out. Even better is to actually burn the paper and bury the ash. That ash is extremely stable, is almost pure carbon, takes up less volume, and will remain out of the atmosphere for perhaps millions of years.
That is … if CO2 is actually a problem … which has not been shown to be the case.

May 13, 2011 11:19 pm

When those professors can show it is cheaper per kg of CO2 to do what they plan to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere than to plant a a palm oil or any other tree or grow a crop…get back to me.

May 13, 2011 11:23 pm

I have an idea for a short film. Basic story board is along these lines
Scenes of dereliction in cities, no indication of where, no need to be specific. The viewer realizes there is nothing moving no people, animals and there is nothing green, no plant life. Scene moves to barren brown rural area’s with wind farms and carbon capture machines.
A solitary human is sitting hunched in the dust, barely able to support it self. The individuals attention is focused on a pathetic sprout with two green small leaves. The person and the plant are as far as the viewer is aware the last living things on earth.
The human has two options, eat the plant and prolong his or her life for a few minutes, or not. Either way the individual will die because of the carbon capture. The plant likewise has one of two futures, being eaten or dying as it is starved of the last remaining carbon dioxide available.
There is of course a logical flaw in the story, if the carbon capture machine are powered by the wind farms they will never work above 5% efficiency so there is no possibility of this apocalyptic outcome.

May 13, 2011 11:27 pm

This is madness. Do we really want to have Canada, Alaska, and most of Russian uninhabitable because of an entirely unproven hypothesis that the planet would be better one degree C colder? Take these people and send them to China or Saudi Arabia where they can destroy with abandon.

Martin Brumby
May 13, 2011 11:32 pm

“Even better is to actually burn the paper and bury the ash. That ash is extremely stable, is almost pure carbon”
If that was the case, why wouldn’t it burn in a fire?

May 13, 2011 11:35 pm

This is the ultimate “trust-me” scheme. Anyway, why do we need to
CO2 removal when cold-fusion (likewise technical details cannot be made
public) is just around the corner. I am not sure whether SRI are still
undertaking cold-fusion research.

Martin Brumby
May 13, 2011 11:52 pm

Manfred says: May 13, 2011 at 11:01 pm
I wouldn’t doubt that technology exists to capture CO2 from the air (as per this post).
I also wouldn’t doubt that you can split carbon atoms from oxygen atoms in CO2 molecules. And hydrogen atoms from oxygen atoms in H2O. And the you can make all sorts of stuff including CH4 methane, as these German pranksters have apparently demonstrated.
I’d love to see cost and energy analyses.
Equally you can take pure carbon from any source and the technology exists (and is used commercially) to make artificial diamonds.
You can then take those artificial diamonds and burn them to generate heat energy and release more CO2.
Seems like a good idea. If someone else is paying.

Gary Pearse
May 13, 2011 11:53 pm

Can’t the dac tech of this company handle the richer co2 stream from flue gas? Or half of it? Or a quarter of it? I’m not impressed with the linear thinking of identifying your tech as a dac or nothing one. Surely you can also see the falacy of your idea that dac actually reduces atmos co2 whereas flue capture only slows growth – if you think about it for a few seconds. Either form is silly anyways as a commenter above points out – why not grow trees (or coral or shellfish). I do admire the entrepreneurial spirit though! If these gullible fools are scared of co2, let’s sell them a gizmo for it. Insurance cos have welcomed the fear of increasing weather disasters to sell high-priced insurance and govt smelled a way to jack up taxes. We’re developing a very profitable fear industry immune from false advertising charges.

Eyal Porat
May 14, 2011 12:09 am

Oh, thank you very much for the info!
Now I see it is much cheaper to solve a non-problem. Well done! /SARC

May 14, 2011 12:18 am

I’m still waiting for someone to capture (and prosecute) the people who design and run the profoundly biased and useless climate models which produce the BS that drives the absurdity of an unnecessary process such as DAC “innovation”.
But that’s just me…

May 14, 2011 12:22 am

The key to GlobalThermostat’s DAC process is energy. From GTs website : “GT’s patent-pending technology uses low-cost left over process heat as energy for the capture of CO2 from the atmosphere. It can be installed at new or legacy power plants, cement smelters, refineries, etc.
Peter Eisenberger – Thanks for posting here. It looks like you have an interesting technology. But with all due respect, I would recommend that you prepare for Plan B. As you would know by now if you had been following WUWT for a while, the IPCC report has little science behind its findings (they are based on abstract formulae in computer models and are disproved by actual observations such as the Tropical Troposphere temperature, and Ocean Heat content), Carbon Dioxide has only a minor effect on global temperature, the world needs all the CO2 in its atmosphere that it can get, and the public in the western world won’t pay for your process once they hear about it.
Plan B? Use the energy for something useful. The world is getting hungrier for energy all the time, and by tapping into an energy supply that would otherwise go to waste, you should be on a winner.

John Marshall
May 14, 2011 1:55 am

What a complete waste of time, money and resources!
There is already a mechanism, free at point of application, called photosynthesis which does this. To keep this system working requires there to be an atmospheric CO2 content in the first place and the higher that content the more efficiently photosynthesis works.
Since it is fairly obvious that CO2 does not drive climate/temperature why are some people still going down this dead end route? It is also very obvious from all experiments and farming practice that the more atmospheric CO2 available for crops to grow the better they do grow giving bigger and better yields to feed the world’s hungry.

old construction worker
May 14, 2011 2:00 am

$600.00 per ton to capture and store.
Make it mandatory that every man, women and child have 100 – 20lb CO2 fire extinguisher. (Cost? Its for the Planet). Then when Mother Nature set the trees a blaze, we could run out and put the fire out and start the process all over again.

Kelvin Vaughan
May 14, 2011 2:28 am

Why don’t we just grow trees all over the planet? Very cost effective and the wood can be used for allsorts of things.

Gordon Walker
May 14, 2011 2:43 am

A back of an envelope calculation shows that, assuming that the average fossil fuel contains 85% carbon, every million tons of fuel burned produces about three million tons of carbon dioxide.
Where are they going to put all that!
Pump it underground and trigger earthquakes?
Combine it with acidic rocks and produce even vaster quantities of waste?
We are dealing with groups of people whose grasp of basic arithmetic, chemistry and thermodynamics is inferior to that of an average sixteen yearold grammarschool pupil!

Geoff Sherrington
May 14, 2011 2:56 am

Repeating for the nth time, forestry is not a valid way to permanently reduce atmospheric CO2 even if it was a good idea to reduce it. A given area of land can sequester a useful amount of C if a smaller amount of original biomass is replaced by a larger biomass, like planting trees on grassland.
Unfortunately, the sequestering remains only so long as the mass difference remains. Tress die and decompose to give back much of the CO2 they took from the air. Therefore, a permanent repository has to be managed in perpetuity, so that it does not revert to its original low carbon storage state.
The quantity “preserved” by making homes or furniture will only last so long. Only a tiny % of the original timber before the industrial age is still with us. The vast bulk has gone to Heaven.
It does not help to put it biomass waste, be it paper or lumber or whatever, in old mines. They also are but a tiny % of the volume needed to make a measurable difference and the transport & burial energy cost is high.
Remember that people would have been doing these bright ideas 50 years ago if they worked. They do not. Not economically, not theoretically, not practically.

May 14, 2011 3:23 am

Many of the experts on the APS panel and those who testified to the panel are working on flue gas capture

Peter Eisenberger, you are clearly suggesting that the opinion of scientific experts depends on who pays them.
And you are also clearly suggesting that the APS is rather gullible to have not recognized such a bias.
If that is so, as someone who works on resolving CAGW, why do you believe the opinions of the “climate scientists”? Surely it simply depends on who pays them?
And why would you believe APS on CAGW when you think they are gullible?
As one very famous scientist pointed out (wish I could remember who) regarding science reporting in the mass media, whenever he read about his own specialist area, he found the reporters always got it wrong, sometimes in very fundamental ways, but for some unknowable reason, he assumed that everything outside his area of expertize was reported accurately.

May 14, 2011 3:27 am

Air separation plants do remove CO2. In the past it was done with reversing exchangers at the front end. More recently it’s done with large twin alternating pressure vessels.
When creating liquid oxygen from atmospheric air I’d be more concerned with the waste nitrogen that is expelled, not carbon dioxide.
Ask anyone in the industrial gas business if you want to know about PPM concentrations, these guys are at the forefront of technology.

May 14, 2011 3:49 am

Love this stuff. A few years ago the Los Alamos folks produced a paper proving the feasibility of manufacturing hydrocarbons. Mostly all that was needed was some electricity which, being nuke folks, they used nuke power plants. Been called synfuel for over half a century. Discounting all the cheap hydrocarbons laying around not being developed, synfuels are price competitive to the OPEC hydrocarbons. And they are, in a word, pure.
Two points on all the Greenie blathering about CO2 “capturing” and “removal”. There’s a huge industry sector called cryogenic manufacturing many of which use “air separation” which, as noted by the Los Alamos folks, is nothing more than refrigeration (compressors, valves – those sort of things). With air separating into liquid nitrogen, liquid oxygen and dry ice the issue really is what to do with the stuff. Along the way, you can put in an electrolysis circuit and freeze out pure hydrogen as well.
The answer is that other Greenie dream – recycling. Dry ice has huge industrial uses today but can be used as one of the constituents of hydrocarbon fuels. Check the chemical composition of methane, benzene, gasoline, diesel, etc. Mix dry ice, hydrogen and nitrogen and you can just recycle the atmosphere. The more we drive then the more we recycle. Perfect!
And likely someone would find a use for all that excess oxygen – maybe fuel cells or used in a “green” detergent that actually cleans.

May 14, 2011 4:18 am

You have to see this as another example of the corrupt system that has given us the bogus science that we have been fed for decades. Eisenberger may or may not have something in the long run, but at least it is privately funded and not part of the government-science establishment. It will succeed — or not — based on its merits in the marketplace.

May 14, 2011 5:17 am

The real con is that rising CO2 levels is not a problem. Those who think with such certainty that CO2 is just a trace gas that can’t have any significant effect, or that it’s influence on climate has been disproven are deluding themselves, and unfortunately others.

David Snyder
May 14, 2011 5:55 am

Actually Carbon Capture is easy, and direct costs are nearly nothing. What is difficult, is refraining from cutting down the trees.

Sal Minella
May 14, 2011 7:06 am

A few questions for this learned group.
1) Is CO2 evenly dispersed in the atmosphere or is it concentrated more in the lower atmosphere due to it’s relative weight?
2) Vegetation effectively converts CO2 to O2 and stores the carbon in it’s biomass, so why do we need to invent a machine to do the same thing?
3) Where is that promised cold fusion?
Thanks in advance for any responses.

May 14, 2011 7:29 am

Ok, I’ll say it: Why the HELL would anybody in their right mind want to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere? I simply can’t believe it!
(Ok…. If this get’s snipped, I’ll deserve it. But it won’t quell my anger.)
To answer Sal Minella above: Cold fusion is on its way! You’ll be hearing a lot more about it this fall (even by some of our Lame Stream Media–first calling the CF people “denier” physicists, then their reports will tolerate them, then they’ll write glowing reports claiming to have discovered a whole new area in physics.)

May 14, 2011 7:34 am

Wouldn’t it be easier to remove water vapor from the air? It’s the most abundant greenhouse gas anyway. I think i’ll call my company “Global Shockfrosting LLC.”
Snake oil salesmen.

May 14, 2011 7:52 am

DAC and Flue Gas Capture are pointless endeavors beyond demonstration of a capability
#1 – There is no supporting evidence that increased CO2 is harmful to either flora or fauna
#2 – There is no product identified other than sequestration (burial).
So, Clara Peller might ask “Where’s the Market”?
If a private company did capture CO2 on a massive scale, it would be no different than what exists in terms of water rights. In other words, you could capture it, but you cannot withold it forever. You could not sell the water, only charge for the act of delivery. Since free CO2 is not a deposit, it can no longer be sold as a commodity, like LNG or Oil.
So, where’s the market? Will the companies that extract CO2 from the atmosphere be selling a service that delivers tanked CO2 to home greenhouses?

May 14, 2011 7:56 am

This rebuttal contains no information, other than an objection. They didn’t even make the standard claim that they could do the job for 1/2 the cost, or something like that.
It reminds me of when Dr. Larry Fine invented a fountain pen that could write under whipped cream:

May 14, 2011 8:50 am

another little louse chasing crumbs at the cannibals’ dinner.
got no class
got no principles
got no sense
climate sluts are the cheapest and filthiest

May 14, 2011 9:15 am

onion2 says:
May 14, 2011 at 5:17 am
The real con is that rising CO2 levels is not a problem. Those who think with such certainty that CO2 is just a trace gas that can’t have any significant effect, or that it’s influence on climate has been disproven are deluding themselves, and unfortunately others.

And your evidence for these claims is. . . ?
/Mr Lynn

May 14, 2011 9:45 am

The best tool for CO2 abatement is phytoredmediation.
What a happy circumstance for us!
Keep eating, guys!!
I know what to do with all that research money!
Let’s spend ALL the climate research money on solar panel research and try to get the ROI time down from a bazillion years.
While we’re at it, let’s desalinate and irrigate africa and grow the plantable regions of the developing world!
Let’s develop hardier winter wheat strains that will expand the growing regions!
Corn for ethanol means you can’t have tortillas? LET’S PLANT MORE OF IT! Woo WOOOO
While we’re at it, let’s deal with the bee mite epidemic and save the modern honeybee, thus securing pollinated food production!
Oh, I’m sorry. Back to schemes to create global governance. I got off message there for a bit.

May 14, 2011 9:46 am

phytoremediation, not redmediation.

Alvar Hanso
May 14, 2011 9:51 am

If you could cheaply pull CO2 out of the air and convert it to carbon and oxygen then you might have something useful since you could sell the carbon fior use as fuel. Of course doing it cheaply is the problem and now you require energy to both capture the CO2 and break the molecules apart to generate the carbon and oxygen. Perhaps if this could be done with a solar energized catalyst one could envision the equivalent of a solar panel that drops carbon powder into storage container. Who knows, after a few days or weeks you might have enough carbon to cook a burger or two on a campfire!

May 14, 2011 11:14 am

The need to pull CO2 out of the air has NOT been demonstrated.
The consequences of artificially lowering the CO2 content of the atmosphere is at the risk of depleting on a natural down-cycle.

May 14, 2011 12:41 pm

Thank you, Peter Eisenberger, for setting the record straight. I mean that sincerely.
Now that the deck chairs on the Titanic have been properly aligned, we can move on to more pressing business.

R. de Haan
May 14, 2011 3:10 pm

My advice for Globalthermostat: Recapture your brain and get a life

May 14, 2011 4:38 pm

It really is astonishing that these lemming-like humans, mesmerized by the imaginary fears of the evil ‘carbon’, would if they could contrive doomsday machines that would suck all the CO2 out of the atmosphere, dooming all life on Earth to death by starvation.
Fanciful? Remember the Xhosa:
There is no limit to the folly of which mankind is capable. These fools must be stopped. How? By exposing their insanity for what it is, and by cutting off their funding. Call your Congressman.
/Mr Lynn

Jay Davis
May 14, 2011 6:07 pm

Could some REAL scientist out there tell me approximately how much CO2 60 acres of deciduous trees remove from the atmosphere annually? If it is somewhere in the neighborhood of several hundred tons, maybe I can get a government grant or subsidy for my woods. My idea is at least as good as this machine, and the trees don’t cost anything to operate or maintain.

Lady Life Grows
May 14, 2011 7:47 pm

Such papers give me the shudders. Some ideas may be unworkable but some carbon destruction is already occurring, viable or not. And it is all murder. Murder of people, slaughter of endangered species, killing of plants. All these depend on carbon dioxide the gas of life.
Maybe somebody can inform these wackos that “organic chemistry” is CARBON chemistry. We are carbon-based life-forms.

May 14, 2011 8:20 pm

As china makes all our stuff, and as a by product produces all that extra scary plant food. Shouldn`t we really strip every penny from carbon initiatives, buy nuclear reactors and `gift` them to the chinese?
What was that ? no? …Oh i see. .
Apparently, they`re not THAT bothered about co2, but the con-dems still want your money.
And this,today.

May 15, 2011 2:52 am

When those professors can show it is cheaper per kg of CO2 to do what they plan to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere than to plant a a palm oil or any other tree or grow a crop…get back to me.
But you can turn a profit on trees. That will be difficult to beat.

May 15, 2011 4:11 am

Graciela Chichilnisky is a Co-Founder & Managing Director of Global Thermostat
and according to her own website
;…is the author of the carbon market of the UN Kyoto Protocol that became international law in 2005. She also created the concept of Basic Needs voted by 153 nations at the 1993 UN Earth Summit to be the cornerstone of Sustainable Development, and in 1996 created the formal theory of Sustainable Development that is used worldwide.’
Some difficulty in finding the models Chichilnisky developed 1993, 1996 and also referenced as 1981 and 1986. (8.7MB)
(1993) North-South trade and the dynamics of renewable resources, Structural Change and Economic Dynamics V4(2) December, p219-48

Matt G
May 15, 2011 12:07 pm

onion2 says:
May 14, 2011 at 5:17 am
“The real con is that rising CO2 levels is not a problem. Those who think with such certainty that CO2 is just a trace gas that can’t have any significant effect, or that it’s influence on climate has been disproven are deluding themselves, and unfortunately others.”
The planet Earth is showing that it is indeed not a problem. Care to show any evidence that does not count models. (these are not evidence) The real problem is people like you trying to convince others that it is a problem with no scientific evidence it is. Since when has 1c increase with a doubling of CO2 been a problem? There is no positive feedback detected which the models rely on. The only real problem is con artists won’t beable to increase their own bank funds when it becomes absolutely clear it is not a problem.

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