Big Oil Companies and JetBlue Join Forces in a $80 Million Investment in an L.A. Carbon Capture Startup

By Sophia Francise

July 14, 2023

On Thursday, California-based startup, Avnos announced that major oil companies ConocoPhillips, Shell Ventures, and JetBlue Ventures had come together to offer $80 million worth of financial commitments.

The investment will be redirected towards developing its twofer technology that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produces water as a byproduct.

The funding is an upfront investment that will enable the deployment of its system over multiple years.

Avnos, based in Los Angeles, plans to launch commercial operations by 2025 using a hybrid direct air capture (HDAC) system. 

The system, sized like a 20-foot shipping container, collects and filters ambient air, collecting water condensation, storing it, and storing CO2 in tanks. 

According to Will Kain, the CEO of Avnos, there will be a 5-to-1 water production ratio for every ton of captured CO2

“Air comes in, and we first extract water. Then the air moves from the water extraction device, it’s dry, into the CO2 extraction part of the system,” Kain says. 

He also added that they are planning to open a  pilot version in Bakersfield, California, later this year.

Advertisements

According to Kain, water production may generate revenue, while CO2 captured could be used for synthetic fuels by ConocoPhillips and Shell.

Avnos’ Plan for Climate Change

Climate change is becoming increasingly evident, with record heat, storms, drought, and wildfires in USA and Canada. 

To mitigate global warming, we must transition to renewable energy by transitioning to fossil fuels. 

However, there is also a growing need to reduce CO2 emissions from human activity in the atmosphere and ocean.

The previous wave of companies promoting so-called carbon offsets have been running a campaign that pledged to plant trees that may or may not exist.

However, according to David Antonioli, CEO of Verra, the largest certifier of carbon credits, a major portion of the credits the NGO approved were not based on fact.

To tackle this, there has been an increase in startups exploring different methods for direct carbon removal, including Climeworks, Charm Industrial, and Equatic. Avnos also joined the race in 2021.

They are running a different business model, which is centered on selling carbon credits and actively assessing the amount of CO2 they’ve removed.

Advertisements

“We have all manner of instruments that can measure the amount of air that flows into our system and the CO2 content of the air that flows into our system and how much comes out the back end,” said Kain.

Their strategy is being unleashed in phases, with the first being the Bakersfield pilot facility, which is funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant and SoCal Gas

The first phase is aiming to remove 30 tons of CO2 annually and generate 150 tons of water. 

The second phase, which is expected to be operational in 2024, is a commercial-scale module with 300 tons of CO2 and 1,500 tons of water.1 

They are also aiming to come up with multiple modules that can be stacked for increased capacity, ideally utilizing solar or wind installations.

“We think a massive differentiator (for Avnos) is that water positivity and the ability to use HDAC as a tool in fighting drought,” Kain said. 

“I think we can differentiate ourselves in many jurisdictions where producing water creates additional value, in locations like California, Arizona, in the desert of Chile, for example, where there’s great renewable capacity,” he added.

References

  1. Alan Ohnsman, ‘A Stealthy L.A. Carbon Capture Startup Snags $80 Million From Big Oil And JetBlue’, Forbes, 13 June 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2023/07/12/a-stealthy-la-carbon-capture-startup-snags-80-million-from-big-oil-and-jetblue/?sh=56a37b692417[]
Share: