RepAir Carbon realised fuel cell tech could be applied to CO2 capture — now they plan to scale

·3 min read

Existing technologies for direct air capture technologies require a lot of heat to remove the CO2, after it's been absorbed into filters. The process to date has been laborious and often highly energy inefficient. What’s often been missing in the process has been a more efficient way of capturing CO2 in the first place. The key to the whole thing is filters, and it is this aspect that more than one startup has been working on in the last few years.

Israel-based RepAir Carbon has now came up with an approach drawn from the ideas behind fuel cell technology to do just that, and it’s now closed a $1.5 million seed funding round co-led by Counteract and ESIL, with participation from Consensus Business Group, ImpactAssets and other investors. ESIL is a partnership of EDF Renewables, Johnson Matthey and Bazan Group.

RepAir Carbon's aim is to develop this "cell" approach for what it describes as “modular Direct Air Capture” to capture or store greenhouse gases "at a gigaton scale". The promise is much lower energy consumption and a less CapEx intensive, modular design based on electrochemistry.

RepAir says it uses an electrical current and a selective membrane to separate CO2 from the air, consuming “up to 3 times less energy for each tonne of CO2 captured without the need for high temperature or significant pressure differentials.”

Amir Shiner, co-founder and CEO of RepAir said: “Direct Air Capture plays a key role in any scenario where global temperature rises less than 2°C. However, today's solutions are too expensive, energy-hungry, and resource-intensive. We’re working hard to develop a technology with a responsible energy footprint that can be deployed in many more settings. This investment will help us advance and optimize our TRL3 prototype.“

Alongside Shiner, the RepAir team includes co-founder and Chairman Yehuda Borenstein, CTO Ben Achrai, PhD, and Board Member Yushan Yan, PhD.

Andrew Shebbeare, managing partner at Counteract, said: “We firmly believe in the part Direct Air Capture will play but are also convinced that today’s technology needs to evolve. With a promising platform and exceptional team, we are convinced RepAir is advancing the state of the art and will help pave the way for responsible and scalable DAC.”

Eli Cymbalista, CEO of ESIL, said: “Our aim is to accelerate and commercialize startups delivering economically viable solutions that support the transition to a NetZero world. We believe RepAir fits that brief exactly and are excited to contribute the skills and resources of our partners’ network to help accelerate their progress.”

In an interview with me, Shiner added: “We will eventually have more blocks that can scale like Lego. We can scale in a modular nature. So we can place our device next to, say, a wind farm, where we get the energy to populate the device. We’re very flexible in terms of where we locate the device because we use air rather than the emitted pollution from a chimney.”