Start up Carbon Clean announced earlier this week that it has raised $150 million in a Series C that will equip it with a sizable war chest to continue development of its modular carbon capture system.
Carbon Clean has won its share of admirers, most recently Chevron, who led the round, and BloombergNEF, who called it a BNEF pioneer last month, in part because of the startup’s small-scale approach to carbon capture and capture (CCS).
Typically, technology is a large-scale affair. After all, the world needs to eliminate emissions on a large scale and the technology benefits from a degree of scale. That is why CCS is usually considered to be linked to huge coal or gas-fired power plants.
But there are still many smaller sites, from cement kilns to chemical plants, that are currently connected to fossil fuels but still need to be decarbonised. These are the kinds of companies Carbon Clean is targeting, and the startup says the modular approach could help polluters move incrementally with their carbon emissions as regulations increase.
Essentially, Carbon Clean relies on a proven process to remove carbon dioxide from exhaust streams. Exhaust gases containing carbon dioxide are passed through a filter wetted with an amine-based solvent. At lower temperatures (about 50 degrees Celsius or 122 degrees Fahrenheit), carbon dioxide will bind to the amines. the CO2-loaded solvent is then pumped to another container, where it is heated to 110 to 120 degrees C (230 to 248 degrees F) to release the gas, which is then compressed and shipped elsewhere to be used or stored. Each company has its own amine solvent with different properties, and the details of the process may be different, but that’s the gist of it.
Aniruddha Sharma, CEO of Carbon Clean, said his company’s amine solvents can reduce costs compared to a commonly used amine because it requires less energy to heat and reduce corrosion in the system. Until the company releases more data, such claims will be difficult to assess. But based on the general type of amine it uses, Carbon Clean will likely see at least a small improvement in energy consumption.