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NETL Talks Direct Air Capture With Tech Developers, Policymakers From Around the World
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DAC technologies, which remove CO2from the atmosphere, are necessary to offset emissions from greenhouse gas sources that cannot be completely eliminated such as agriculture.

NETL experts took part in the recent Global Direct Air Capture Conference, a two-day event that brought together global leaders and innovators who are working to develop direct air capture (DAC) as a robust, cost-effective and environmentally just technology to remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

Held Oct. 16-17 at Columbia University in New York City, the conference aims to be an annual gathering for knowledge-sharing and cross-sectoral discussions in DAC, a rapidly evolving field. David Luebke, technical director of NETL’s DAC Center, served on a panel that discussed DAC research, development and demonstration priorities.

Other speakers included Jennifer Wilcox, principal deputy assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), and Rory Jacobson, senior advisor for deployment, FECM.   

“As we strive to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, processes like DAC, which remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, are necessary to offset emissions from sources that cannot be completely eliminated,” Luebke said. “NETL is working to build an ecosystem which supports technology developers in rapidly bringing DAC to the gigaton scale. Conferences like these are a critical aspect of that ecosystem because they foster the exchange of information and ideas.”

NETL has been instrumental in advancing research to capture CO2 from the flue gas streams produced by power plants and other industries and store it permanently and safely in deep underground complexes and geologic reservoirs or use it as a feedstock to produce higher-value products such as chemicals and plastics.

In 2022, Congress authorized $25 million for the new NETL DAC Center, which is scheduled to come online during the summer of 2024 at the Lab’s research campus near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The center will be designed with substantial flexibility to accommodate the rapidly evolving DAC technological landscape. Testing systems will be available at three scales — lab-scale systems designed to examine the long-term stability of DAC materials, bench-scale module testing systems capable of probing flow dynamics and small pilot-scale skid rooms able to test prototype DAC units.

In addition, the center will provide developers with the ability to simulate a wide range of conditions, which will enable better understanding of how various DAC technologies respond in different climates, from summer to winter and arid to tropical.

The NETL DAC Center will be a comprehensive center to help partners — universities, research institutions and businesses developing DAC technologies — leverage NETL’s facilities and expertise to test innovative DAC technologies. Partners will have access to:

  • A nationally recognized center supporting DAC technology development and testing from invention to commercialization.
  • Inclusive, state-of-the-art testing facilities.
  • Collaborative access to NETL’s world-class expertise.
  • Standardized and bespoke testing options representing the “gold standard” in performance analysis.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.