Newswise — WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $24 million for research into technology that captures carbon emissions directly from the air, replicating the way plants and trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2). This technology, known as direct air capture, has the potential to create good-paying jobs, advance America’s fight against climate change, and achieve President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

"If we can figure out how to remove polluting emissions directly from the air, it would be a game changer in America's fight against climate change," said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. "Let’s make America the leader in this new field, create jobs, and make our carbon-free future a reality."

Carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere is a major contributor to climate change, and preliminary studies show carbon dioxide at high enough concentrations may pose significant health risks to people and animals.

Studies show that meeting our climate change goals will require advances in large-scale carbon dioxide removal. While progress has been made in this field, direct air capture methods are not currently efficient enough to be cost-effective and economically viable. This funding will support the breakthroughs needed to address the limitations of currently available technologies, and develop entirely new and more effective approaches for direct removal of CO2 from ambient air.

“Research teams across the country, including my home state of Arizona, are leading the way on developing carbon capture technology, and their groundbreaking progress has been bolstered by Department of Energy grants,” said Representative Greg Stanton. “This additional investment will spur new innovation and jobs in communities throughout the country. This funding will support projects with transformative potential to expand an entire green industry focused on decreasing emissions, improving energy efficiency, and ultimately making our air cleaner.”

“Direct air capture technologies are proving to be an innovative, pro-growth solution to addressing present and future environmental challenges in Arizona and around the country,” said Representative David Schweikert. “By increasing basic research opportunities and funding for these technologies, we can have a cleaner environment and stronger economy in the future. I look forward to continuing to advocate for the deployment of this technology in Congress, and am pleased to hear about this funding opportunity.”

“Carbon removal is key to addressing climate change and direct air capture, in particular, not only can reduce emissions but also create jobs and drive new markets,” said Erin Burns, Executive Director of Carbon180. “This funding opportunity is a clear sign that the Department of Energy understands both the opportunity for direct air capture to generate social, economic, and environmental benefits, as well as the enormous opportunity for meaningful innovation in technological carbon removal approaches. DOE has a long history of successfully catalyzing important new technologies, and Carbon180 welcomes their strong leadership on carbon removal.”

DOE supports the search for carbon removal solutions at both the basic and applied science levels. This funding announcement made through DOE’s Office of Science complements recent applied research efforts in direct air capture funded by the Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Office of Fossil Energy.

National laboratories, universities, industry, and nonprofit organizations will all be eligible to apply for this $24 million in total planned funding, which will be selected based on peer review. The Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) within the Department’s Office of Science, which is funding the effort, envisions awards both for single investigators and larger teams.

The Funding Opportunity Announcement can be found on the BES funding opportunities page.