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Deep Sky announces first direct air capture partnership

Brings U.K.'s Mission Zero Technologies as its first public direct air capture partner

Deep Sky and Mission Zero Technologies will be partnering on a direct air capture pilot project in eastern Quebec. (Courtesy Deep Sky)

Carbon removal company Deep Sky has added London, U.K.-based Mission Zero Technologies to its roster of carbon-capture partners piloting technology for potential industrial-sized scale-up.

The direct air capture (DAC) solution will be tested in 2024 at Deep Sky’s Alpha Lab test facility in an as-yet-undisclosed Montréal Est location, where the goal is to capture 200 to 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, powered by hydroelectricity from the region.

Frederic Lalonde, Deep Sky’s co-founder, said in an interview with SustainableBiz he was “blown away” by Mission Zero’s team and described it as “one of the smartest groups that I’ve ever met.” He was drawn by the technology’s energy efficiency, and that it does not generate heat, use hazardous chemicals, nor produce mounds of waste.

If successful, Mission Zero’s DAC could then be deployed at Deep Sky’s planned gigaton-scale carbon capture site in Quebec.

Mission Zero is Deep Sky’s first announced DAC partner.

About Mission Zero

Deep Sky saw the promise in Mission Zero as an XPRIZE Carbon Removal winner and for its innovation.

Mission Zero CEO and co-founder Nicholas Chadwick told SustainableBiz that when Deep Sky reached out, he recognized it presented “a massive opportunity.” The availability of renewable electricity in eastern Quebec and the area's geology, which is ideal for carbon storage, caught his attention.

“I think they’re visionaries in many ways,” Chadwick said. “They have impetus and momentum that is sorely needed in this space at this moment and time. They’re driven to get things done. That’s very much the kind of partnerships that we want to be building and working on.”

Both companies are also aligned in their visions to capture gigatons of carbon dioxide.

“It might seem risky up front,” Chadwick said, “but the reality is that if we don’t do this right now, we’re going to wish that we’d have done it in about 10 to 20 years time.”

Employing industrial cooling tower infrastructure adapted for DAC, Mission Zero uses a water-based solvent to capture and stabilize carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, then subjects it to electrodialysis. This separates the carbon dioxide from the solvent and concentrates it as a pure gas, which is captured and can either be sequestered, injected into building materials or mixed into fuels. Simultaneously, the solvent is regenerated for re-use.

In addition to not generating heat, and utilizing hydroelectric power, the technology is modular and compact, which he said makes it rapidly scalable and affordable. Being energy efficient, it does not compete for valuable renewable electricity, which is crucial for other industries on their decarbonization journeys.

Mission Zero has plans for other deployments outside of Canada, such as injecting captured carbon dioxide into synthetic fuels and building materials.

The DAC pilot project

The DAC will be tested in 2024 at Deep Sky’s Alpha Lab test facility in eastern Quebec.

Lalonde said Deep Sky will operate Mission Zero’s DAC reactor through a licensing agreement, where it will acquire the data on its performance and find areas for improvement. This will allow for comparison to other vendors.

The pilot projects help answer questions about the energy requirements and forecasted operating costs for the industrial-scale carbon capture Deep Sky seeks to achieve.

“The idea of continuously running a technology for a year in a controlled environment is very, very important and we want to hit that milestone as quickly as possible,” Lalonde said.

The Deep Sky co-founder likened his firm's role to that of a cloud service like Amazon Web Services, where it will concentrate on the challenges of DAC like securing the clean energy, finding sites with a favourable regulatory environment, dealing with sequestration and scaling-up the carbon capture, while its partners focus on building the technology.

Mission Zero is joining other technology partners like direct ocean capture company Captura, and Deep Sky’s Montreal neighbour Exterra Carbon Solutions, a firm exploring carbon sequestration.

What’s next for Deep Sky

As for Deep Sky, Lalonde said results of a funding round and government support in the tens of millions will be announced soon. There will be more technology partnerships as well, including with DAC companies.

Deep Sky has made a series of hires in the past months — Phil De Luna as chief carbon scientist and head of engineering; Damien Steele as CEO; and Greg Maidment as director of subsurface. All will be key to the company’s growth plans.

“Between Phil De Luna, Greg Maidment and Damien Steele, I believe we have all the aspects that we need which is the capture science, the sequestration science and the financial engineering, which are three pillars on which we think we can scale up to gigaton-scale,” Lalonde said.

Deep Sky is also beginning a new carbon sequestration project for which it is purchasing land.

Finally, the company has partners for scaling-up carbon mineralization, with the aim of capturing, sequestering and mineralizing at least one ton of carbon to “send the right signal to the world,” according to Lalonde.

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