Canadian airline Air Canada announced on Thursday that it will invest $6.75 million in climate solutions company Carbon Engineering to help develop technology that extracts carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. The move is part of the airline’s climate plan, which includes a commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Carbon Engineering & Direct Air Capture
Photo: Carbon Engineering
Founded in 2009, Carbon Engineering (CE) is a clean energy company working to develop a product that extracts carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere through a process known as Direct Air Capture.
The process typically involves huge fans that suck in huge plumes of air, filter out carbon dioxide, and return the other gases to the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide is then permanently stored in geological formations in such a way that it cannot contribute to climate change. Alternatively, it can be used as an ingredient in the manufacture of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
CE’s Direct Air Capture plants are capable of extracting 1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year; it would take about 40 million trees to achieve the same result. This makes them a particularly useful tool in the fight against climate change, as they can offset a significant portion of the damage caused by burning fossil fuels. This also makes them perfect for the aviation industry, which currently largely relies on gas-powered aircraft because all-electric alternatives like the Regent Seaglider and Eviation Alice either have limited range or are still in development.
Air Canada’s climate action plan
Photo: Air Canada
The investment is the latest in a series of donations by the Canadian airline and follows a $5 million investment in Swedish electric aircraft manufacturer Heart Aerospace. Both investments come from a $50 million fund set up as part of Air Canada’s climate action plan, which aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The plan also includes provisions for target reductions in air and ground operations emissions of 20% and 30% respectively by 2030.
Through its $50 million climate action plan, Air Canada has signaled to the rest of the airline industry that it’s serious about delivering on its promise to achieve net-zero carbon emissions and its recent $6.75 investment million dollars in Carbon Engineering is ultimately a significant investment milestone on its way there. Direct Air Capture technology has the potential to revolutionize the way companies think about their carbon footprint, and other airlines looking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions would do well to invest in similar ventures.
Additionally, such airlines should fund research and development of all-electric aircraft, as the Canadian carrier has done through its $5 million investment in Heart Aerospace. In this way, airlines can offset the greenhouse gas emissions of existing aircraft in their fleets and work toward a future where they no longer have to – ultimately creating a greener future for the airline industry.