Hélène Pilorgé Weighs in on Powering Direct Air Capture

Hélène Pilorgé portraitDirect Air Capture (DAC), the process of capturing carbon dioxide from the air through a series of chemical processes akin to photosynthesis, is one of the more sustainable climate change combatants when considering land use and ocean health.

While experts such as Jennifer Wilcox, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Energy Policy and Director of Penn Engineering’s Clean Energy Conversion (CEC) Lab, posit that DAC offers a more concrete solution than some of its counterparts, DAC remains a chemically and energy intensive process.

In a recent article from The Washington Post, Hélène Pilorgé, a Research Associate at the CEC Lab, weighs in on the efficiency of renewable energy sources as a means to power DAC. According to Pilorgé, the common DAC “solid sorbent” method of CO2 removal, which requires heat as high as 212 degrees, “fits well with the energy that geothermal can provide.”

“Other renewables, like solar and wind, aren’t natural fits. Solar and wind can produce electricity, but they don’t produce high heat easily. (This is also why it’s hard to make things like steel without fossil fuels.) The energy needed for direct air capture, Pilorgé says, is about 80 percent heat and only 20 percent electricity.

According to one study co-authored by Pilorgé, if air capture were combined with all of the geothermal plants currently in the United States, the country could suck up around 12.8 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.”

Read How this company plans to use Earth’s heat to cool the planet in The Washington Post.