Innovation That Matters

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Direct air capture inspired by the human lung


This novel system uses less energy and is more efficient than conventional direct air capture technologies

Spotted: Direct air capture (DAC) is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 60.9 per cent between 2023 and 2030, but current technology can be both inefficient and energy-intensive. Ucaneo Biotech is working to change this with its novel DAC technology.

Many conventional DAC technologies work by binding CO2 to a chemical solvent, similar to a chemical sponge, and then extracting the CO2 from the solvent under high heat. Ucaneo’s system, by contrast, revolves around a water-based bioreactor that contains an enzymatically enhanced bio-membrane.

This captures the CO2 directly, making it more cost-effective and efficient than other DAC technologies. In fact, the technology was inspired by the human respiratory system, working in a similar way to the process of air exchange in the lungs.

In essence, Ucaneo uses a solvent to capture CO2 as bicarbonates, which are weakly charged ions. The CO2 is then separated out using a specially designed electrochemical cell. The air goes back into the atmosphere, while the CO2 can be used as feedstock to produce carbon-neutral products like synthetic fuels or stored long-term underground to back carbon credits.  

Not only is Ucaneo’s technology cheaper, but it can also be run continuously at room temperature, making it much more energy efficient. It is designed to be modular, allowing easier deployability and performance control.

The company has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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