Charm Industrial has permanently sequestered 5,000 tons of CO2 (it’s a drop in the bucket)

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

Charm Industrial, a startup that converts carbon dioxide back into an oil-like liquid that it then stores underground, has just hit a milestone by permanently sequestering 5,000 tons of CO2 equivalent.

As the company notes, it’s the largest permanent carbon removal delivery that’s been made to date, but it’s still nowhere near what’s needed to get the world’s greenhouse gas emissions in line to avoid a climate catastrophe.

“5,000 tons is a drop in the bucket,” Charm Industrial chief executive Peter Reinhardt, wrote in a company blog post. “We are in a race against time to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide per year (according to IPCC models.) We’ll need multiple methods of carbon removal, all scaling at breakneck speed, to meet our climate goals. That’s why we’re excited that Climeworks has also begun carbon removal deliveries, and other companies are racing to deploy their own carbon removal capacity.”

Chart showing the tons of carbon dioxide equivalent permanently sequestered since January 2017. In total, companies have sequestered 6,000 tons of CO2e since sequestration projects began in 2018. Image Credit: Charm Industrial

ClimeWorks isn’t the only other company that’s working on developing carbon dioxide sequestration. They’re just the only other company currently in the market.

The Canada-based business, Carbon Engineering, has its own contracts to grab airborne CO2 and sequester it as well.

In fact, there’s a whole value chain of carbon capture and then utilization or sequestration technologies that are coming to market — although most are more temporary sequestration options.

Some very early-stage companies like Noya Laboratories and Holy Grail, are working on modular systems that can be deployed on top of industrial facilities or even at homes to capture CO2.

Of course, taking the CO2 out of the air is only the first step in a process. Climeworks is working on a project in Iceland that, as Bloomberg reported, would use geothermal energy to filter CO2.

Once it’s captured, the CO2 is dissolved in water and pumped into rock layers where it can be stored permanently.

In Oman, one of the massive oil-producing nations on the Arabian peninsula, Climeworks is working with another early stage company called 44.01 to store CO2 in peridotite mineral deposits.

Peridotite reacts with CO2 and water to produce the mineral calcite, which is inert, harmless, and can remain in geological formation for centuries. The mineral is typically found below sea level, but thanks to shifting tectonic plates (and in an irony of history), the mineral deposit that could store hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 produced from the region’s oil and gas exploration and use, is on the surface.

To finance its operations, 44.01 raised $5 million in funding from investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures and the Apollo Project.

Still other businesses, like CarbonCure, Carbicrete, and Heimdal are capturing carbon emissions and storing them in concrete. It’s not permanent, but it is a potential decades or centuries-long storage option that removes carbon from the atmosphere at a time when that step is critical to mitigate climate change.

Neither Swiss Re nor Climeworks would tell Bloomberg how much they’re spending on CO2 removal, but Bill Gates cut a deal with another Climeworks partner, Carbfix, for $600 per ton to store CO2.