Japan Joins Race to Develop Tech That Sucks CO2 Out of the Atmosphere

November 17, 2021|Carbon Capture

Image by Schäferle from Pixabay

With more and more countries saying that decreasing greenhouse gas emissions isn’t enough to combat climate change, the idea of Direct Air Capture (DAC) has gained traction as a solution to cut atmospheric levels of CO2.

Japan initially ignored DAC as a theoretical technology that seemed less promising than Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). This year, however, that stance changed. Not wishing to be left behind in global green innovation, the Cabinet Office launched an ambitious R&D initiative that includes efforts to create technology that pulls more CO2 out of the atmosphere than it emits.

For now, Japan is simply catching up. There are 15 DAC pilot plants already operating in the world, mostly led by startups in Switzerland (Climeworks), Canada (Carbon Engineering), U.S. (Global Thermostat), and the UK (Center for Negative Carbon Emissions), according to the IEA. Together they suck more than 9,000 Mt of CO2 from the atmosphere each year. Climeworks switched on the world’s biggest DAC plant just two months ago.

Still, Japan believes it can catch up and become a world leader by developing its own approach. The country’s DAC research is led by several groups of major scientific institutions and universities that are looking at ways to capture CO2 from discarded energy or via membrane separation, among other ideas. Armed with ample government funding, Japan could yet become a serious contender in the DAC arena.

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