Start Carbon Clean announced earlier this week that it raised $ 150 million in a Series C, giving it a significant war chest to continue the development of its modular carbon capture system.
Carbon Clean has won its share of admirers, most recently Chevron, which led the round, and BloombergNEF, which named it a BNEF Pioneer last month, in part because of the startup’s small-scale approach to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).
Typically, technology is a large-scale affair. After all, the world has to eliminate emissions on a large scale, and technology benefits from a certain scale. This is why one usually imagines CCS attached to massive coal or gas fired power plants.
But there are still many smaller places, from cement kilns to chemical factories that are currently poisonous with fossil fuels, but which still need to be decarbonized. These are the kind of companies that Carbon Clean is up to, and the startup says its modular approach can help pollutants manage their carbon emissions gradually as the rules tighten.
Basically, Carbon Clean relies on a proven process to remove carbon dioxide from the exhaust streams. Exhaust containing carbon dioxide is passed through a filter moistened with an amine-based solvent. At lower temperatures (around 50 degrees Celsius or 122 degrees Fahrenheit) carbon dioxide will bind to the amines. CO2-filled solvent is then pumped to another container, where it is heated to 110 to 120 degrees C (230 to 248 degrees F) to release the gas, which is then compressed and sent elsewhere for use or stored. Each company has its own amine solvent with different properties, and the details of the process may vary, but that’s the core of it.
Carbon Clean CEO Aniruddha Sharma said his company’s amine solvents can reduce costs compared to a commonly used amine by requiring less energy for heating and by reducing corrosion in the system. Until the company releases more data, such claims will be difficult to judge. However, based on the general type of amine it uses, Carbon Clean is likely to see at least a slight improvement in energy consumption.