AirMyne (YC W22) – Capturing CO2 from air at industrial scale

Hi HN, we are Sudip and Mark, founders of AirMyne (https://www.airmyne.com, but there’s nothing there yet). We’re building an industrial-scale process/plant to capture and remove CO2 from air, so it can be piped to nearby sequestration facilities and injected underground—a process that requires less energy and capital equipment than other leading solutions.

Companies spent over $1B on CO2 offsets last year, sourced primarily from landowners and project aggregators claiming to protect forested lands. Over the past few years, interest in more permanent forms of CO2 removal have led to the pilot-scale commercialization of novel bio-oil/biochar/biomass, direct air capture, mineralization, and ocean processes, but these are not yet available with sufficient capacity to meet demand. There is no silver bullet, but we believe removing CO2 from air with an industrial chemical process offers the most realistic and scalable path forward.

Capturing and sequestering CO2 from air is a huge engineering challenge. The dilute concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (~400ppm) means a system operating at 100% capture efficiency would still need to process 2500 tons of air to capture just 1 ton of CO2. Significant energy is then required to release CO2 from the capture medium. On top of that, compressing and injecting CO2 underground requires controlling for gas leakages, dry ice blockages, and the corrosive conditions created when concentrated CO2 comes in contact with trace water vapor.

Our approach goes back to the fundamentals of acid/base chemistry. CO2 acts as an acid and will bind to a base, whether in the liquid phase or on a solid surface. We have developed a process to bring air in contact with a base substrate that captures CO2 molecules while letting N2 and O2 molecules pass through. After energy is applied, CO2 is desorbed from the substrate for downstream treatment and compression. This reversible process allows for a single stage “air in, CO2 out” system where 1 ton of substrate could capture >1000 tons of CO2 over its useful lifetime.

In the lab, we have demonstrated this approach at a gram-level scale and believe the process offers favorable energy use, planned capex/opex costs, and process complexity compared to existing solutions. (We’d love to show you a video but can’t do that yet—the chemistry & physical embodiment of the system are areas where we’re developing core IP and that process still involves some secrecy at this stage.)

As we scale this process, we are initiating discussions with other companies who can help us inject captured CO2 deep underground so it can be sequestered for geologic time scales. Sequestration technologies have improved their compression and injection processes over the years, and an emerging regulatory landscape is starting to take shape to accelerate the deployment of CO2 injection wells and mineralization projects in the US, the EU, and around the world. We intend to colocate our CO2 capture near injection facilities to minimize transport logistics.

Sudip and I both come from industry. At Honeywell, Sudip invented and scaled the low-global-warming refrigerant 1234yf used in automotive air conditioning systems, as well as a variety of products used to make displays, computer chips, sensors, solar modules, and electrical components. I invented formulations at BASF now widely used in the manufacture of silicon carbide power electronics for EVs, solar inverters, and other high power electric devices. We bring a systems engineering perspective to the C02/climate problem—our focus is not only developing, but also derisking and scaling industrial systems/processes into a business case suitable for large industrial stakeholders.

Eliminating existing emissions is the most urgent and important challenge we face to keep the climate habitable, but removing CO2 from the atmosphere will likely be needed too. Tackling this problem head-on opens up other fascinating possibilities. By focusing on the “extreme user” case of removing dilute CO2 from air, we might develop unique innovations or insights applicable to the point-source capture of more concentrated CO2 streams such as industrial flue gases. And just as natural gas (methane) was a commercially useless molecule until oil companies started capturing it and finding a use case, we believe that if CO2 can be captured from air and made useful, it could become the feedstock for an industry of similar scope and scale.

We are thrilled to launch as a YC W22 company - we couldn’t ask for a more forward-looking community of folks open to buying, supporting, or otherwise engaging with climate solutions like ours. Grateful for your time and happy to take your questions! We are at [email protected] if you want to reach out.

p.s. dang took out all our footnotes but if you want references for any of the above, please ask!



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andrey azimov by Andrey Azimov