Audi and Krajete, an Austrian GreenTech company based in Linz, are working together to develop new ways to filter pollution out of the air. These so-called Direct Air Capturing technologies are based on strong adsorption materials and, most importantly, new ways of doing things. They have the potential to save a lot of energy and money in a wide range of ways.
A new plant in Austria is the latest thing that the two partners have done. In this case, an inorganic filter material is used, which can hold a lot of molecules and doesn't change much when it gets wet. This means the air doesn't need to be dried before it is filtered. It makes things work better and costs less. The temperature and pressure are very close when CO2 molecules are absorbed and removed from the adsorption surface. This means that the time it takes for the adsorption to load and unload is much shorter. This means more CO2 can be taken out of the air in a shorter time. After the adsorption process, the air that has been cleaned is sent back out into the world. After the CO2 is taken out, it is highly concentrated and can be used as a raw material.
The big plant near Linz, which just started working, can filter 500 tons of CO2 annually. With the help of an extra module, the plant's capacity will be raised to 1,000 tonnes by the end of the year. A solar cell plant on the plant's property provides the power needed to run the plant.
Alexander Krajete, who runs the same-named technology development company, explains: "At first, for efficiency's sake, we decided that the process had to happen under the same pressure as the environment. Then, we changed the materials used for adsorption and the physical conditions in the plant until we found the best way to filter the most CO2 in the least amount of time." This technology led to a big drop in the cost of separation, and now 1 ton of CO2 costs less than 100 euros. The long-term goal is also to find ways to use carbon dioxide in industry. In this way, Krajete and Audi want to help similar applications get a foothold in the market.
"The technology allows us to remove CO2 directly from the air, no matter where we are. This is a big step toward reducing CO2," says Hagen Seifert, head of AUDI AG's department for sustainable product concepts. "The modular structure also lets the plant's technology grow differently."
As the next step after the giant plant in Linz, Audi is looking into the possibility of adding sources with higher CO2 concentrations and filtering other emissions, such as nitrogen. Also, the Direct Air Capturing technology could be used at Audi's factory in Gyr, Hungary. One could imagine a plant that could separate 25,000 tons of waste annually.
Why is Audi helping to make direct air capturing technologies better?
Audi wants to help keep the average global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius. So, the group makes all business decisions with sustainability in mind and has set some ambitious goals in this area. By 2025, the Volkswagen Group will have cut the environmental impact of cars and light vans by 40% compared to what it was in 2018. All the steps will help the whole group reach a CO2-neutral environmental account by 2050 at the latest.