Global Thermostat

The main U.S.-based company with DAC facilities is Global Thermostat. The company, whose CEO is Graciela Chichilnsky, launched the company with Peter Eisenberger, formerly a physicist with ExxonMobil. Chichilnsky won the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore when she served on the UN IPCC, while Eisenberger became frustrated at Exxon that the oil major would not move beyond fossil fuels.

 

Since it began as a startup in 2010, Global Thermostat has raised $51 million. It has not disclosed its private investors, but it reportedly has the backing of a U.S. energy company and Edgar Bronfman Jr, the former chairman and CEO of Warner Music. It has received public money, including a $250,000 grant in 2017 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Global Thermostat, along with Georgia Tech and Algenol, was also awarded $2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. A number of companies have used Global Thermostat’s technology to reduce emissions. For instance, Algae Systems, a renewable energy company, produces carbon negative fuels with Global Thermostat’s equipment by injecting CO2 into its algae and producing biochar, diesel and jet fuel.

 

With carbon removal now considered a necessary part of the climate solution, the company is seeing more opportunities from investors. The company’s CEO said that after the IPCC published its report in October, Global Thermostat received investment offers totaling $200 million in just one day. This development shows how the IPCC report and the growing urgency surrounding climate should help jump-start the industry.

 

Global Thermostat, with its steady funding over the years, is nearing commercialization. Since 2010, it has run demonstration plants at SRI International in California, and currently, it is building its first commercial plants in Huntsville, Alabama, with operating costs at $150 per ton. But the company expects costs to drop and is targeting $50 per ton, with help from selling CO2 to soda companies to inject into carbonated drinks. Having beverage producers as clients can position Global Thermostat to reach commercialization. The company says that with the combination of its customer base – which will purchase CO2 – and the federal government tax credit, it can soon reach the $50 per ton figure, the level at which it can scale up its technology. One of the advantages of the company’s cost structure is that it uses low amounts of electricity in its capture process, instead mostly utilizing leftover process heat to power its facilities.

 

The Alabama plant can currently suck only 4,000 tons annually out of the air, hardly enough to move the needle in combating climate change. The company claims, though, that less than 400 of the company’s plants could reduce annual global emissions by one percent, the total emitted by 60 million cars. The company is aiming to grow globally: It now has 35 patents in 147 countries and plans to sell CO2 captured for water desalination, synthetic fuels and polymers along with beverages. “We expect global adoption and we will favor scaling up in developing nations where most of the growth of the world economy will be located,” said Graciela Chichilnsky.