Heirloom unveils America’s first commercial DAC facility, advancing national net-zero goals

The United States’ first commercial Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility will use limestone rocks to pull already-emitted CO2 from Earth’s atmosphere in an effort to mitigate the impacts of global climate change. The announcement highlights Heirloom’s rapid technical and business progress and marks a critical milestone for both America and California’s leadership in the race to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees celsius.

“Heirloom Carbon Technologies, right here in Tracy, California, is the blueprint for how America can beat climate change,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M Granholm, speaking at the official unveiling ceremony.

“This first commercial direct air capture facility is the closest thing on Earth that we have to a time machine, because it can turn back the clock on climate change by removing carbon dioxide that has already been emitted into our atmosphere,” said Heirloom’s CEO and Co-Founder, Shashank Samala. “The capacity of Heirloom’s limestone-based technology to capture CO2 from the air has gone from 1 kilogramme of CO2 to up to one million, or 1000 metric tons, in just over two years. We owe it to every climate-vulnerable citizen to continue to deploy our technology at the urgent pace required to reach billion-ton scale and beyond in time to stop the worst of climate change.”

“We’ve set ambitious, nation-leading climate goals to cut pollution and accelerate our transition to clean energy,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “Projects like this Heirloom facility are exactly the sort of big and innovative ideas that we’re embracing – using renewable energy to directly remove pollution from our air, all while creating good-paying jobs in the Central Valley. California is creating the model for expanding the economy and fighting climate change.”

This first-of-its-kind domestic DAC facility helps to advance President Biden’s 2050 net-zero goal and California Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2045 state net-zero targets.

Fully powered by renewable energy, supplied locally by Ava Community Energy, and constructed with union labour, Heirloom’s Tracy facility has been operational for nearly 1,000 hours and is actively capturing atmospheric CO2, which will be permanently sequestered in concrete through a partnership with CarbonCure Technologies. The facility has a capture capacity of up to 1,000 tons of CO2 per year and will deliver net removals to early, catalytic buyers of Heirloom’s CO2 removal credits, including Microsoft, Stripe, Shopify, and Klarna.

This facility was constructed and is being operated consistent with Heirloom’s recently-outlined principles for the responsible deployment of carbon removal – which include commitments that no carbon dioxide removed will be used for enhanced oil recovery and that no equity will be granted to companies whose core business is the production of oil and gas. The Tracy facility was constructed with union labour – in partnership with local affiliates of the State Building Trade Union, including UA Plumbers & Pipefitters (Local 442) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW 595) – demonstrating that green jobs can also be good quality jobs.

Heirloom also announced a community governance model, which kicks off a process in January of 2024 where community groups will be convened by nonprofits — across the City of Tracy and the broader San Joaquin County — with a mission to bring together the climate technology industry and local concerned citizens. Via quarterly meetings, this process will gather routine community feedback on the facility and its operations and help to steer input for how Heirloom will provide financial and programmatic investments in community organisations.

Heirloom’s technology works by using limestone, an abundant, easy-to-source and inexpensive material, to pull CO2 from the air. Using a renewable-energy-powered kiln, the limestone is heated to extract the CO2, leaving a mineral powder that is thirsty to absorb more CO2. This powder is then spread onto vertically stacked trays where it acts like a sponge – pulling CO2 from the air. Once saturated with CO2, the material is returned to the kiln, the CO2 is extracted, and the process begins again. The captured CO2 gas is then permanently stored safely underground or embedded in concrete.

By using easy-to-source materials like limestone, harnessing the power of algorithms to increase the capture capacity of that material, and scaling with modularity, Heirloom’s technology represents one of the lowest cost pathways to permanent CO2 removal. The company’s goal is to remove 1 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2035 – a figure which represents 20% of today’s annual U.S. emissions and 10% of global carbon removal needed annually by 2050.

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