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Airport cooling towers could be used to capture CO2
We’ll shortly be releasing our carbon removals power list, which features companies in the carbon capture/transformation space that we think are relevant for anyone working in aviation.
Last week, we talked about Twelve and Synhelion. Another company in the power list is Noya.
To set the scene, a piece in Forbes made this very big claim about them: “The Success Of One Company Could Just Lead The U.S. To Become Carbon Negative Relatively Quickly.”
In the article, writer Hersh Shefrin said that it’s possible that, “within a decade a single company will be able to remove more carbon dioxide per year from the atmosphere than the U.S. emits during an entire year.”
Noya’s solution, which generated this glowing coverage, is to retrofit cooling towers that sit on top of buildings, to take CO2 out of the atmosphere.
If that works, that’s obviously a scalable and cost-effective solution.
And the relevance to the aviation industry is clear – airports and aviation infrastructure buildings have cooling towers on top.
When we spoke to Noya CEO and Founder Josh Santos, he told us that in addition to retrofitting these cooling towers, Noya is working on more ‘standard’ carbon removal and direct air capture, and has already sold a significant number of carbon removal credits.
A successful trial of the cooling tower technology was carried out last year, capturing CO2 from the air and regenerating it at a +95% purity.
However, Josh Santos told us that Noya has since decided to move from a water-based carbon capture model to a solid-based one, which is less energy intensive.
The important point is that the cooling tower, once retrofitted, keeps its existing core functions.
Josh Santos also said that Noya would give building owners a cut of the carbon credits captured from the unit
By the end of the decade, Noya’s goal is to remove a seven-figure amount of CO2 a year.
Finally, Noya no longer has this space to itself, according to Techcrunch, German company Neo Carbon likewise wants to convert cooling towers into carbon capture units, though it is still at a very early stage having raised €1.25 million in seed round funding.
Much of aviation’s journey to net zero depends on readily available clean energy.
For example, electric aircraft will of course require a charging infrastructure at airports. Likewise the process of making e-fuels by converting CO2 into SAF, also requires renewable energy.
An Oxford University study that’s generated a lot of press interest, is therefore relevant.
The report said that switching to renewables over fossil fuels isn’t expensive, as is sometimes commonly believed. Instead, it could save the world as much as $12 trillion by 2050.
“Even if you’re a climate denier, you should be on board with what we’re advocating,” Prof Doyne Farmer from the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School told BBC News.
“Our central conclusion is that we should go full speed ahead with the green energy transition because it’s going to save us money.”
A number of companies are already thinking about the charging facilities needed for electric aircraft.
For example, Eaton and electric aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel have unveiled “Skycharge”, which they claim to be the “world’s first standard electric airplane charging station.”
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