GM #2 Recap (09/12/2022)

Unfamiliar with Negative Emissions technologies? No worries! Our last meeting consisted of SPEED NETS, a fast-paced crash course on the basics of the Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) space. Presented by our officers, SPEED NETs introduced what we consider to be the five topics essential to understanding CDR. 

Our first presenters, Zach and Yazan, talked about Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). This is a process that converts captured carbon dioxide into biofuel. They introduced the idea of Point Source Capture, a specific method that involves capturing CO2 directly from an emitting source, rather than from the open atmosphere. Then, they explained the different mechanisms by which captured greenhouse gasses can be processed and converted into useful biodiesel, e-gas, biofuel, and many more. They concluded their presentation with the limitations and challenges of BECCS, such as the large amount of land it requires.

Next up, we heard from Ben and Sebastian, who focused on the technical aspects of man-made capture—otherwise known as Direct Air Capture (DAC). They covered the basics of DAC, describing it as “big fans that blow air over a sorbent where the CO2 chemically reacts and is absorbed. Once the clean air has been cleared out, the captured CO2 is desorbed and sent into a sequestration facility.” They mentioned several companies around the world that are investing their efforts into DAC technologies, most notably mentioning ClimeWorks, a Swiss company that presented their technology in a previous NET meeting. Lastly, they talked about other means of capturing carbon, such as Direct Ocean Capture, Bio-DAC, and enhanced weathering. 

Up next, we heard from Andy and Micky. They introduced a more generic overview of the NET space: the international state of CDR. They explained why NETs are relevant in the fight against climate change, stating that their involvement is essential if we want to stay under the 2°C of warming. They then talked about the difficulties of CDR in developing countries, as they often lack investment, regulatory infrastructure, and have to face the limitations of source and sink matching. This being said, they discussed a couple of developing countries, such as Brazil, India, and South Africa, with high energy usage that have been slowly improving their CDR status, and mentioned their respective projects. Moreover, they then showed potential spots around the world where DAC can be introduced, whether that is in geothermal, nuclear, or hydroelectric power plants.     

Next, Neha and Sara dived into an overview of Utilization and Storage (sequestration), describing how some companies are turning captured CO2 into products such as cement, plastics, and fuel. They specifically mentioned Carbon Upcycling, a Canadian company that claims that its cement mix is stronger due to its CO2 additive package. They then talked about sequestration, which involves injecting captured CO2 deep underground, for either direct mineralization or Enhanced Oil Recovery, a drilling technique that extracts oil while pressurizing carbon dioxide into the oil reservoir.

Finally, the last SPEED NET of the meeting was presented by Vilasini and Ben, who took on the Economics of Carbon Capture. They elaborated on topics such as Carbon Budgets, mentioning how different types of funding and government incentives play a pivotal role in carbon markets flourishing. They also introduced how these markets are supposed to function with carbon credits and their respective criteria. Then, they clarified how Carbon offsets are often a scam, as big corporations claim to go “NET zero by 2030” by buying forested land and say that they are capturing carbon that would otherwise already be captured. Finally, they mentioned current emission reduction schemes that are already in place, such as California’s Cap and Trade system.

After being bombarded with information, SPEED NETs concluded with a quick knowledge check where members were able to pair up and participate in a fun Kahoot game, with the most knowledgeable teams winning overpriced donuts and churros. 

If you missed the meeting, we have a video recording of it. You can click here to watch it, or you can scan the QR below to go to our Box. Once you’re there go to General Members > Meetings, and you will find it there! We really appreciate everyone that came, and we hope y’all had as much fun as we did. Keep an eye out for future meetings that will be following the same Kahoot format—we will definitely be having more of them!

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