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Chemical Engineering
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A continuous electrochemical process for direct-air CO2 removal

| By Mary Page Bailey

Direct-air capture (DAC) of atmospheric carbon dioxide presents promise for helping to reach global-warming reduction goals. However, many DAC technologies are hindered by high costs and inefficiency. RepAir Carbon (Yokne-am Illit, Israel; ) recently launched a field prototype of its DAC technology, which is based on a continuous electrochemical process that lowers energy consumption and costs when compared to other DAC solutions. Similar to a fuel cell, RepAir’s process employs two electrodes separated by a selective polymeric membrane. Cells can be “stacked” to multiply carbon-removal capacity.

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Source: RepAir

“Atmospheric air is drawn into the cathode, where an electrical current generates hydroxide ions that bind to CO2 molecules, forming carbonate and bicarbonate ions. Only these ions cross the membrane into the anode, wherein the binding process is undone, the hydroxides are consumed and pure CO2 gas is drawn out,” explains Amir Shiner, CEO and co-founder of RepAir Carbon. Unlike other DAC processes that must run in discrete batches, RepAir’s technology can run continuously, because the cell is designed so that the electrode polarities and inlet airflow are swapped every few hours. Also, the technology can be fully run using renewable electricity with no additional heat source, which results in a 70% reduction in energy consumption when compared to other DAC processes, the company says.

Following the recently launched field prototype system, RepAir Carbon plans to introduce a larger 200-ton demonstration unit by 2025 and further expand to the industrial scale by 2027. “RepAir’s straightforward modular design renders it easy to produce at a large scale, ensuring low capital expenditures. Furthermore, no waste or byproducts are produced,” adds Shiner, noting that the core element of the cell is designed to last around ten years, after which all components can be disassembled for recycling.
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