In the pursuit of cleaner air, carbon capture emerges as a cornerstone solution. In a recent illuminating Q&A session with Ann-Sophie Farle, Chief Scientific Officer at Skytree, we delved into the intricate web of technologies and pioneering innovations that Skytree employs to confront the daunting challenge of reducing CO2 emissions
#CTS: Can you provide an overview of Skytree's mission and how the company is contributing to the journey toward a cleaner environment?
Ann-Sophie Farle: Skytree is a Decentralized Direct Air Capture (DDAC) technology provider. We provide the technology required to capture CO2 from the ambient air, paving the way to historical emissions removal, as well as an alternative circular CO2 supply for reliant industries.
#CTS: Could you explain the key technologies and innovations that Skytree is using to address the challenge of reducing CO2 emissions?
Ann-Sophie Farle: Skytree provides modular, energy efficient and rapidly deployable DAC units that remove CO2 from ambient air. The core technology captures CO2 from ambient air onsite, filters it using a patented process, and stores it in pressurized buffer tanks where it can be accessed and reused by any business in regular need of concentrated CO2. The technology was born out of the European Space Agency during the development of a CO2 scrubber. Skytree’s founder, Max Beaumont, spun out the technology through the ESA incubator program 'ESA-BIC' in 2011. With over a decade of applied research, we hold over 17 patents on process and filter optimization, as well as system integration solutions.
#CTS: As a Materials Science and Engineering expert, what role does material science play in developing sustainable carbon dioxide solutions?
Ann-Sophie Farle: Reducing emissions and removing CO2 from the atmosphere pose unique challenges to the scientific and engineering community. By harnessing sustainable materials and adopting circular principles in material usage, researchers can design and fabricate products and infrastructure with reduced environmental impact. These innovations not only lower carbon emissions during production but also extend the lifespan of materials, minimizing waste and resource depletion. Moreover, material science enables the creation of advanced catalysts and carbon capture materials, pivotal tools for capturing, storing, or converting carbon dioxide emissions. This multidisciplinary approach is essential for ushering in a sustainable future, as it empowers us to reduce our carbon footprint and combat climate change while ensuring responsible resource management. By continually advancing our understanding of materials and their lifecycles, researchers facilitate the development of efficient, cost-effective solutions, ultimately paving the way for a cleaner, more circular, and environmentally responsible world.
The unique challenge for direct air capture is the design and tuning of materials for the selective capture of CO2 from relatively low concentrations ( 400-450ppm), while being as energy efficient in their regeneration as possible. A large responsibility lies with the large established chemical producers to scale and provide these new materials at competitive prices to enable the growth the DAC sector needs to have an impact.
#CTS: How do you see the role of carbon capture and utilization evolving in the transition to a net-zero emissions future?
Ann-Sophie Farle: CCU technologies are crucial for addressing historic emissions removal. These innovative solutions can help mitigate the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels that have accumulated over centuries, a task essential for combating climate change. By capturing carbon emissions from industrial processes, power plants, and directly from the atmosphere, CCU provides a means to sequester carbon dioxide and prevent its release into the atmosphere.
CCU aligns with the need for alternative supply chains and societal changes. As we transition to a net-zero future, the traditional reliance on fossil fuels must give way to cleaner and more sustainable alternatives. CCU offers an avenue to produce synthetic fuels and chemicals using captured carbon dioxide, reducing our dependence on fossil resources. This shift toward alternative supply chains not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also enhances energy security and resilience.
Public awareness and support for these technologies are essential for their widespread adoption. Governments, industries, and individuals must recognize the value of CCU in achieving net-zero emissions and invest in research, development, and implementation.
Additionally, regulations and policies that incentivize CCU adoption, such as carbon pricing mechanisms, can further accelerate its integration into our energy and manufacturing systems.
#CTS: In your view, what are the key policy and regulatory considerations that are essential for accelerating progress towards a net-zero carbon future?
Ann-Sophie Farle: Focussing specifically on the UK, the 2023 Green Finance Strategy is working hard towards setting the right metrics to manage risks and seek opportunities, as well as mobilizing capital towards both innovation and deployment of innovations in the case of industrial scale projects.
This would automatically fuel investments in innovative companies held back due to new technologies or due to their industrial scale, thereby de-risking the net zero transition which currently has a focus that is presently too broad and too traditional.
The UK, and a few other countries, have started taking steps towards net-zero in government through key ministries and committees, but to build a policy and regulatory environment, a lot more external stakeholders especially those working with disruptive technologies need to be
brought into the mix to accelerate understanding, decision making, and delivery towards net-zero goals. Decentralization of subsidies, funding and support could be one way to accelerate progress with a bottom-up governmental approach.
#CTS: As you are speaking and exhibiting at the London Climate Technology Show, could you please share what the audience can expect to see and experience at your booth, and also tell us about your expectations from the London Climate Technology Show?
Ann-Sophie Farle: Scaling up DAC technology plays an essential role in achieving world climate change objectives, as outlined by the IPCC in their latest report, and in achieving net zero by 2050. As such, Skytree would like to share more about the advantages and challenges awaiting the DAC industry moving forward and how we are planning to address them.
By participating at the London Climate Tech Show, Skytree would like to introduce how we can address not only the existing, but also legacy emissions using the power of decentralized direct air capture. We also expect to interact with local authorities and governmental representatives who are seeking new ways to approach certain sectors en route to their net zero goals. In addition, meeting thought leaders to form collaborations and partnerships to jointly solve some common problems through climate tech.
If you would like to find out more about what we do and how our technology works in greater detail, stop by our booth and we’d be happy to initiate you into the world of carbon capture.