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How DAC recycles CO2 and supports the Circular Economy

Published on 
December 20, 2022

Recycling is a familiar concept for consumers around the world - but few would think it applies to natural gas or carbon dioxide. As global resources like CO2 become more scarce, it’s increasingly important to find new ways to maintain a secure supply while acting responsibly to protect the planet, and economic progress. 

One solution that is gaining momentum is circularity.

This blog examines what circularity is, how it can form the basis of a more sustainable economic model, and where CO2 fits into it. 

How Circularity can help the Planet

Gone are the days when the planet’s resources were considered infinite. In fact, globally, earth’s resources are currently being depleted at an unsustainable rate.

The problem is that many of the resources we currently use in production, consumption and industrial processes, are used in single-use with no processes to reuse or recycle them. 

This is not only wasteful, but incredibly destructive to the planet’s environment and natural ecosystems.  

The solution lies with the widespread adoption of circularity. The principles of circularity take into account every step of the lifecycle of products and resources to ensure that:

  • Materials are kept at the highest possible value along the value chain
  •  Cost efficient solutions are implemented to recycle, refurbish and repurpose resources
  • More responsible consumption is supported by circular systems and practices
  • Wildlife and ecosystems are preserved, not depleted by extraction

The most prominent case for circularity has been outlined by Oxford Academic and Economist Kate Raworth, with her pioneering model Donut Economics.

The Donut Economic Model

The Donut Economic Model emphasizes that using GDP growth to measure development has led us to the brink of ecological disaster. It has supported a consumption model that has degraded air quality, plastic pollution, and contributed to climate change. 

The Donut model prioritizes other economic indicators including health, environment and biodiversity as well as social impact and process.  

At the recent COP27 and COP15 climate and biodiversity summits, the concept of circularity has emerged as a viable solution to combat the challenges of climate change and wildlife loss.

CO2 as a Resource

There is abundant data and evidence that there is too much CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere. Today, the world is not on track to limit global warming to within 1.5 degrees because of the dangerous levels of carbon dioxide in the air. 

Removing this CO2 is necessary and urgent. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be stored in the ground or in traditional carbon sinks. CO2 is a valuable resource that is crucial for many sectors, from greenhouse growing to drinks production and industrial metal works. It can - and should-  be recycled and put to work safely. 

That’s why, at Skytree, our mission is to create a circular CO2 supply chain that captures ambient CO2 and redistributes it where it is needed. 

Right now, many industries are feeling the strain of an acute CO2 shortage, caused by the heavy reliance on the fossil fuel industry to provide CO2 for their operations. 

Decentralized Direct Air Capture revolutionizes the CO2 supply chain, eliminating the middleman and giving companies the opportunity to be fully in control of their CO2 supply, by recycling the carbon dioxide available to them in the surrounding air of their factories, breweries or greenhouses.  

Sustainable, Secure CO2 Supply with Direct Air Capture

Skytree’s DDAC solution to recycle CO2 has a number of benefits that not only prevent unchecked CO2 polluting the atmosphere, but also fit the circular economic theory.

We have developed modular technology to capture CO2 out of the ambient air and into our filter. Then upon a trigger mechanism the smart carbon controls are set to ensure when the CO2 is released.

Skytree DDAC technology:

  • Operates with low energy consumption and waste heat integration technology
  • Is a modular units that can scale to meet demand 
  • Can be quickly and easily deployed wherever it is needed
  • Ensures secure CO2 supply released on demand with smart API

Recycling CO2 also has the invaluable benefit of taking carbon dioxide directly out of our atmosphere. Something that is an urgent need if we are to stay within our carbon budget and limit global warming to within a safer margin. 

The world’s remaining carbon budget at the end of 2020 was 195 GtCO2 to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. At 2019 CO2 emissions levels, this budget will be overshot by 2025. 

After that, the world will be on track for very dangerous climate change impacts. This means that managing the CO2 supply chain - particularly how it is created - is urgent. Ensuring that we can reach net zero emissions as soon as possible after 2025, while not completely eliminating CO2 from vital industrial applications is key.

This is where recycling existing ambient CO2 with decentralized direct air capture (DDAC) will be revolutionary. 

The Future of Economics is Circular

Recycling traditional materials has become a part of our lives as consumers. From cardboard to glass, fashion and plastics. As the population grows, it will only become more imperative that scarce resources are used within a circular economic model that prevents us from overshooting the planet's natural reserves, while maintaining a baseline productivity.  

Today, more companies and sectors are innovating within their supply and value chains to fit the circular economic model. Examples of this can be seen with IKEA’s sell-back program and a new e-waste toolkit designed to help create a circular solar product supply chain, and even circular cosmetics companies like UpCircle using discarded materials like coffee-grinds in their products.

It’s clear this is not just a trend. Modular technology products, tech refurbishment,  second-life batteries and improved repair services are all part of the circular model. In some sectors, particularly - clean energy -  entirely new divisions and partnerships are being created  to further establish circular opportunities. 

Recycling CO2 is the natural next evolution of this by capturing and reusing CO2, rather than creating additional carbon dioxide through fossil fuel combustion. 

This eliminates single-use applications of this vital resource, ensures a secure and abundant on-site supply for industrial users, and helps build a truly sustainable economy underpinned by the values of circularity.

Estee Chaikin
Estee Chaikin
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