This past Monday we met with Scott Gardner, CarbonFree’s CFO and former UT alumni. He has been with the company for a couple of years, where his primary role has been to oversee financial operations and provide financial advice to ensure the steady development of the company.
Scott began his presentation by stating that an aspect that makes CarbonFree distinctive in the space of carbon capture technologies is the company’s ability to capture CO2 and turn it into a profitable product that can be sold to other companies/industries. He mentioned that the company’s primary consumers are businesses that have declared carbon neutrality/negative goals but don’t necessarily know where to start. This is where CarbonFree will go in, build a facility adjacent to the business, and utilize their flue gas stream to make a product. He then introduced us to the two different technologies that have been developed, SkyMine ® and SkyCycle™, both of which allow carbon captured from a flue gas point source to undergo mineralization. He mentioned that SkyMine has been operating since 2015 and can capture around 50,000 tons of CO2 from the input stream of an adjacent cement plant. Then, he gave us an in-depth overview of SkyCycle, a “second-generation” project that has been in the final engineering stages this year, and will have its first commercial plant rolled out by next year. Scott detailed the two possible pathways for SkyCycle, the first being a “Sodium Pathway”, which produces carbon-negative sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) as a product, and the second being a “Calcium Pathway”, which produces carbon-negative Calcium Carbonate (aka limestone) as a product. He stated that SkyCycle’s advantage is that it requires much less capital investment, has a smaller land footprint, and has a lower energy penalty (this is the amount of energy used to capture the CO2).
One of the issues that CCUS companies have encountered has been the cost of capturing the carbon, but Scott made sure to note that the profitability of the products allowed for this to not be a worry for CarbonFree. He then dived into the company’s approach to the industry, which is to sell the profitable PCC (Precipitated Carbon Carbonate) and HCl byproduct to industries such as plastic and steel, which will make use of this raw material. He outlined three possible modes of operation for the SkyCycle plant,
1. Selling both the PCC and HCl
2. Reusing the HCl and selling the PCC
3. Reusing the HCl and storing the PCC
and provided a quick overview of each. He also noted that PCC has a possible total market demand of ~$40 billion and HCl has one of ~$8 billion.
Scott finished up his presentation by answering y’alls awesome questions and providing a little backstory as to how his career has developed over the years.