Energy Excursions

Direct Air Capture in Texas

Texas Leads the Way on Direct Air Capture in the Permian Basin

In 2019 Occidental became one of the first major oil companies to invest in developing direct air capture (DAC) factories. The company invested in Carbon Engineering, a Canadian business that developed a DAC pilot plant outside of Vancouver. Together, the companies have begun the engineering and design work of the world’s largest DAC and sequestration facility, located in the Permian Basin with a land footprint of approximately 100 acres, rumored to be in Ector County (home of Odessa). Construction on the facility is expected to start in 2022 with the possibility of creating 1,000 jobs.1Globe Newswire. (2020, August 19). Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, Rusheen Capital Management create development company 1PointFive to deploy Carbon Engineering’s Direct Air Capture technology. Retrieved November 3, 2020, from https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/08/19/2080502/0/en/Oxy-Low-Carbon-Ventures-Rusheen-Capital-Management-create-development-company-1PointFive-to-deploy-Carbon-Engineering-s-Direct-Air-Capture-technology.html2Blum, J. (2019, May 21). Oxy moves forward on Permian ‘direct air capture’ plant. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved November 3, 2020, from https://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Oxy-moves-forward-on-Permian-direct-air-capture-13867251.php

Rendering of Occidental’s Direct Air Capture Facility in the Permian Basin (construction 2022)

When operational, the facility will be the largest DAC plant in the world, capturing up to one Mt of atmospheric CO2 annually. Currently, the world’s largest individual DAC facilities have the capacity to capture several thousand tonnes of CO2 per year. The CO2 captured (500,000 t/yr) at the facility will be stored by Occidental in the subsurface using two methods. First, Occidental will use the CO2 as part of their enhanced recovery program in the Permian. The company uses 50 Mt of CO2 annually for enhanced recovery, which permanently stores CO2 as part of the process. Second, geologic sequestration will deliver permanent CO2 removal. Occidental plans to use these two methods to help achieve their ultimate goal: to put more CO2 into the ground than it takes out in the form of fossil fuels. Partnerships on commercial development of DAC facilities has been made possible by market-based policies in the U.S., such as the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard and Federal 45Q tax credit.3Globe Newswire. (2020, August 19). Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, Rusheen Capital Management create development company 1PointFive to deploy Carbon Engineering’s Direct Air Capture technology. Retrieved November 3, 2020, from https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/08/19/2080502/0/en/Oxy-Low-Carbon-Ventures-Rusheen-Capital-Management-create-development-company-1PointFive-to-deploy-Carbon-Engineering-s-Direct-Air-Capture-technology.html4Blum, J. (2019, May 21). Oxy moves forward on Permian ‘direct air capture’ plant. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved November 3, 2020, from https://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Oxy-moves-forward-on-Permian-direct-air-capture-13867251.php

How do Costs Compare?

Looking specifically at carbon capture, the cost can vary greatly by CO2 source, from a range of $15-25/t CO2 for industrial processes producing “pure” or highly concentrated CO2 streams (such as ethanol production or natural gas processing) to $40-120/t COfor processes with “dilute” gas streams, such as cement production and power generation. Capturing CO2 directly from the air is currently the most expensive approach (~$100/t CO2), but could nonetheless play a unique role in carbon removal. Some CO2 capture technologies are commercially available now, while others are still in development, and this further contributes to the large range in costs.5IEA. (n.d.). Is carbon capture too expensive? Retrieved June 24, 2021, from https://www.iea.org/commentaries/is-carbon-capture-too-expensive

The costs for capturing carbon as part of a capture and storage project vary by CO2 source. Which source of capturing CO2 is typically the least expensive on this list?

Power generation

Incorrect. 

Gas streams from power generation produce more dilute streams.

Direct air capture

Incorrect. 

Direct air capture is currently the most expensive approach at $100/t. 

Ethanol production

Correct. 

An industrial process such as ethanol production produces highly concentrated CO2 streams. Average costs are $15-25/t.

 

Cement production

Incorrect.  

Gas streams from cement production produce more dilute CO2 streams.

 

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