Microsoft-backed start-up Heirloom uses limestone to capture CO2 | Jobs Recent


Almost every industry is working to reduce carbon emissions, but reducing is not enough. To prevent the worst effects of global warming, the carbon dioxide already emitted must be removed from the atmosphere, which is why there is a new and rapidly growing industry related to carbon capture.

Scientists estimate that to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, approximately 10-20% of the CO2 emitted each year worldwide must be captured and safely stored or used for other purposes. New companies are capturing carbon dioxide in all sorts of new ways. Some, like Climeworks and Carbon Engineering, use huge fans to pull it out of the air. Charm Industrial retires from agriculture, turning biomass into oil.

California-based startup Heirloom takes a different approach: it uses limestone to capture CO2 from the atmosphere. CO2 is naturally present in limestone. Heirloom removes this CO2 by heating the limestone to a powder and stores the extracted CO2 underground. The remaining powder is then hungry for more CO2. Heirloom poured this powder into trays and the robot determined the location for maximum CO2 absorption. A process that naturally takes years is shortened to just three days. When the powder is full, the process starts again.

“We have to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air, and you know this is a space that really takes many companies, many different approaches,” Heirloom CEO Shashank Samala told CNBC.

“Basically, we’re just giving super powers to the limestone to pull in much more CO2 much, much faster,” Samala said.

The Heirloom approach is relatively cheap compared to other types of carbon capture and removal and highly scalable, making it attractive to investors such as Microsoft.

“We found that the Heirloom approach to enhanced mineralization uses commonly available materials as passive airflow technologies, [which] means it has the potential to hit a low-cost trajectory, which has really been a challenge for the entire industry,” said Brandon Middaugh, director of Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.

Heirloom says it plans to deploy its first location next year and aims to remove 1 billion tons of CO2 by 2035. It also sells carbon credits that allow companies to offset their own CO2 emissions. Buyers are Microsoft, Stripe, Shopify and Klarna.

In addition to Microsoft, Heirloom’s sponsors include Ahren Innovation Capital, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (which is the venture capital firm of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates), Carbon Direct, and Lowercarbon Capital. To date, $54.3 million has been raised.



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