By Greg Avery, Denver Business Journal - One of the world’s only large, direct-air-capture facilities is pulling carbon dioxide from the air north of Denver, drawing Colorado’s governor and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the powerful Democrat, there Tuesday celebrate the milestone in person.
Startup company Global Thermostat unveiled a direct-air-capture facility it built outside its headquarters in an industrial part of Brighton and proclaimed the company’s carbon-dioxide gathering technology ready to be commercialized.
Company executives and politicians hailed the plant as historic, a pioneering example of an emerging industry of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere on a large scale.
“When the story of our victory in the climate crisis is written, today will be a defining moment,” said Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat who stepped down as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives at the start of the year.
Other companies plan direct-air-capture plants for CO2, and some are under construction in the U.S., but Global Thermostat says no other plant of a similar scale to Global Thermostat’s is operating and its technology ready for sale in the U.S., and the only comparable direct-air-capture facility in operation is in Iceland.
The facility — two stories tall with a footprint of a few hundred square feet — draws in air using fans and then filters it through material Global Thermostat developed to grab carbon dioxide molecules.
The plant then uses heat to turn the CO2 into a gas that’s captured and can be permanently sequestered — likely by injecting it underground in special wells — or sold to the beverage industry or for other uses.
Global Thermostat aims to commercialize its technology, selling plants to customers who want to harvest CO2 for sale or sequestration and to qualify for federal carbon reduction tax credits of up to $180 per ton.
The demonstration plant Global Thermostat assembled in Brighton can capture up to 2,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, the company says. Global Thermostat’s plants would be able reach about 10,000 tons of annual carbon capture by building four modules on a site and deploying them as a single, multikiloton direct-air-capture system, the company says.
“We believe this is a very big day for the planet,” said CEO Paul Nahi, who has previous experience leading solar power companies and joined Global Thermostat six months ago. He praised the 10 years of work it took the company to advance the technology to the point the plant was possible, saying that unlocking the ability to direct-air-capture CO2 could usher in a new industrial era.
“What I see today reminds me of the early days of solar,” he said. “We can, once and for all, kill the narrative that doing something to help the planet will hurt the economy.”
Global Thermostat began building on the Brighton site on 2020, making it the company's technology development center and later declaring it company headquarters.
The company isn’t revealing the plant’s cost for capturing each ton of CO2. But, Nahi said, as more plants are built, costs should come down and the aim is to get operating expenses close to $100 per ton of CO2 sold, which should make plants viable.
Global Thermostat doesn’t disclose how much energy the plant consumes, either. The plant still sequesters more CO2 than is emitted by traditional electrical sources needed to power it. Using solar or another zero-emissions energy source would increase the net-carbon reduction of each plant, Nahi said.