Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) and Talon Metals’ (TSX: TLO) Tamarack nickel project in central Minnesota may soon host a machine that removes carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere.
Deployment of the device has become a priority for developer CarbonCapture, a California-based climate tech company that recently closed a $35-million Series A funding round and has amassed more than $43 million in equity financing since its inception.
The CarbonCapture technology is a renewable energy-powered Direct Air Capture (DAC) system that enables, for the first time, the use of zeolites for capturing CO2.
A class of molecular sieves, zeolites are inorganic, inexpensive, long-lasting, and non-toxic. In addition, they are already manufactured in very large quantities for multiple industrial applications, which means that it would be easy to scale the DAC to gigaton levels.
A highly tunable machine, the CarbonCapture system also relies on both solar and geothermal power to operate.
The way it works is, for example, for each tonne of CO2 captured from the air, the machine is set to also capture between 1 and 5 tonnes of pure water. Further, CO2 output purity can be lowered to align with storage strategies that do not require food-grade purity, such as injection into building materials, mine tailings, or geologic formations that mineralize CO2.
Given these possible uses, CarbonCapture has decided to partner with companies that are developing cutting-edge approaches to storing carbon in mineral form through natural chemical reactions.
The company’s first deployments will be with Rio Tinto and Talon Metals, with feasibility studies beginning in Q4 2021 at Tamarack.
“Our investment in CarbonCapture shows Rio Tinto’s commitment to supporting innovative technologies that can make a meaningful contribution to addressing the climate change challenge,” Nigel Steward, chief scientist at Rio Tinto, said in a media statement. “We look forward to working with CarbonCapture to explore the potential for permanently mineralizing and storing CO2 at Rio Tinto’s sites, which may also offer new commercial opportunities.”
The Tamarack project is located 210 kilometers north of Minneapolis and 89 kilometers west of Duluth. It is comprised of the Tamarack North and Tamarack South projects, with approximately 31,000 acres of private land and state leases.
Tamarack is currently the only high-grade development-stage nickel project in the United States.