Heirloom unveils America’s first commercial Direct Air Capture facility
Things are looking up for carbon removal!
Two years ago, our team at Heirloom was using limestone to capture CO2 from the air in a petri dish. Today, we're proud to unveil a new facility that can capture up to 1,000 tons of CO2 per year, which will be sent for centuries-long storage in concrete to fulfill commercial removal purchases.
This afternoon, we welcomed President Biden's Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm, and California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis to unveil what is the United States’ first commercial Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility. We also welcomed the CEO of PG&E Corporation, the head of the California State Building Trades Union, the City of and community of Tracy, elected officials, and community members.
“This first commercial direct air capture facility is the closest thing on Earth that we have to a time machine, because it can turn back the clock on climate change by removing carbon dioxide that has already been emitted into our atmosphere,” said Heirloom’s CEO and Co-Founder, Shashank Samala. “The capacity of Heirloom’s limestone-based technology to capture CO2 from the air has gone from 1 kilogram of CO2 to up to one million, or 1000 metric tons, in just over two years. We owe it to every climate vulnerable citizen to continue to deploy our technology at the urgent pace required to reach billion-ton scale and beyond in time to stop the worst of climate change.”
This first-of-its-kind domestic DAC facility helps to advance President Biden’s 2050 net-zero goal and California Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2045 state net-zero targets.
“Heirloom Carbon Technologies, right here in Tracy, California, is the blueprint for how America can beat climate change,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M Granholm, speaking at the official unveiling ceremony.
“We’ve set ambitious, nation-leading climate goals to cut pollution and accelerate our transition to clean energy,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “Projects like this Heirloom facility are exactly the sort of big and innovative ideas that we’re embracing – using renewable energy to directly remove pollution from our air, all while creating good-paying jobs in the Central Valley. California is creating the model for expanding the economy and fighting climate change.”
"California continues to lead the world toward a clean energy future. With the opening of Heirloom's facility, California is the first state in the nation where CO2 will be permanently and durably removed from the atmosphere through Direct Air Capture and the first among nations to store atmospheric CO2 in concrete, supporting construction projects across the state," said California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. "As a California-born company, Heirloom has helped us achieve an incredible milestone that further cements our state as a global climate leader and brings us closer to achieving our goal of carbon neutrality by 2045,” said California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Koulanakis.
Fully powered by renewable energy – supplied locally by Ava Community Energy – and constructed with union labor, our Tracy facility has been operational for nearly 1,000 hours and is actively capturing atmospheric CO2, which will be permanently sequestered in concrete through a partnership with CarbonCure Technologies. The facility has a capture capacity of up to 1,000 tons of CO2 per year and will deliver net removals to early, catalytic buyers of Heirloom’s CO2 removal credits, including Microsoft, Stripe, Shopify, and Klarna.
This facility was constructed and is being operated consistent with our recently-outlined principles for the responsible deployment of carbon removal – which include commitments that no carbon dioxide removed will be used for enhanced oil recovery and that no equity will be granted to companies whose core business is the production of oil and gas. The Tracy facility was constructed with union labor – in partnership with local affiliates of the State Building Trade Union, including UA Plumbers & Pipefitters (Local 442) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW 595) – demonstrating that green jobs can also be good quality jobs.
We also announced today a community governance model, which kicks off a process in January of 2024 where community groups will be convened by nonprofits — across the City of Tracy and the broader San Joaquin County — with a mission to bring together the climate technology industry and local concerned citizens. Via quarterly meetings, this process will gather routine community feedback on the facility and its operations and help to steer input for how Heirloom will provide financial and programmatic investments in community organizations.
This first commercial facility demonstrates the rapid pace at which our technology and business has developed since our founding in 2020. Since then, Heirloom has become one of the leading DAC companies in the world. The company raised a $53 million Series A in 2022, with backing from some of the world’s leading climate investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Earlier this year, Heirloom and CarbonCure pioneered the world’s first-ever demonstration of DAC-to-concrete storage – an important, immediately-available storage pathway that is being used to sequester CO2 captured by the Tracy facility. In August, Heirloom and other partners were selected for one of the largest projects under the Biden Administration's DAC Hub program, with eligibility for up to $600 million in federal funding for a DAC facility in Louisiana. And in September, Heirloom and Microsoft announced one of the largest CO2 removal deals to date, with Microsoft agreeing to purchase up to 315,000 metric tons of CO2 removal from Heirloom over a 10+ year period.
If you’re just learning about us, Heirloom’s technology works by using limestone, an abundant, easy-to-source and inexpensive material, to pull CO2 from the air. Using a renewable-energy-powered kiln, the limestone is heated to extract the CO2, leaving a mineral powder that is thirsty to absorb more CO2. This powder is then spread onto vertically stacked trays where it acts like a sponge – pulling CO2 from the air. Once saturated with CO2, the material is returned to the kiln, the CO2 is extracted, and the process begins again. The captured CO2 gas is then permanently stored safely underground or embedded in concrete.
By using easy-to-source materials like limestone, harnessing the power of algorithms to increase the capture capacity of that material, and scaling with modularity, Heirloom’s technology represents one of the lowest cost pathways to permanent CO2 removal. The company’s goal is to remove 1 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2035 – a figure which represents 20% of today’s annual U.S. emissions and 10% of global carbon removal needed annually by 2050.