PAUL/VANCOUVER – 3M is expanding its commitment to materials science-based climate technology solutions by working with Svante Technologies to develop a material that can trap carbon dioxide (CO2) found in the atmosphere and permanently remove it.
Svante has developed a process for coating solid sorbents onto “laminate sheets” and stacking them into high-performance filters, which are available for both industrial point-source capture – from hydrogen, cement, steel, aluminium, pulp and paper plants and refineries – as well as for direct air capture.
Solid sorbents, particularly metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), are a step change for the carbon capture industry, Svante says. Their energy efficiency, resistance to degradation in the face of post-combustion flue gas impurities and low cost of ownership make them ideal for carbon capture.
Svante’s MOF captures CO2 from diluted flue gas streams with high capacity and selectivity over water. It captures 95% of the total CO2 emitted from industrial sources, adsorbing CO2 using direct low-pressure steam injection for regeneration. The company has partnered with BASF, the world’s largest chemical producer, to mitigate supply chain risk and scale-up the production of its MOF sorbent materials from lab to industrial scale, using a simple water-based process and green chemistry principles to minimise environmental impact.
The tailor-made solid sorbents have a high storage capacity for carbon dioxide – a sugar-cube sized quantity of the sorbent materials has the surface area of a football field. It has also engineered structured adsorbent filters to capture and release CO2 in less than 60 seconds, compared to hours for other solid sorbent technologies.
The Svante MOF sorbent material is said to be proven and effective at separating CO2 from nitrogen contained in diluted flue gas from cement, lime, steel, aluminium, fertilizer, pulp and paper, oil and gas and hydrogen plants, and also has a unique resistance to SOx, NOx, oxygen impurities and moisture swing. It’s resistant to chemical degradation, which means less of a headache for operators and longer product lifetime.
It is not clear whether the ‘laminate’ carrier materials for the sorbents are nonwovens, fabrics, films, membranes or composites of any of these materials, and Colleen Nitta, Svante’s director of marketing and communications said the specifics were proprietary. Elsewhere, they are referred to as “nano-engineered filters”, but this could just refer to the MOF coating.
3M, however, is a leader in nonwoven filter media and Ray Eby, president of 3M’s Personal Safety Division, said that the company is eager to take on the challenge of scaling the production and supply of carbon removal materials over the next decade – in a similar way to how it managed to triple the production of nonwoven-based N95 respirators during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our deep expertise in filtration technology, extensive global R&D community and unwavering commitment to create world-changing solutions give us the confidence to scale these carbon-adsorbing solutions with the necessary speed to combat climate change,” he said. “3M is committed to helping build a low-carbon economy and driven by a need to solve the world’s most pressing challenges and our partnership with Svante to create innovative climate solutions is an exciting prospect for us.”
“3M is another great addition to our network of world-class strategic partners and investors,” said Claude Letourneau, Svante’s president and CEO. “3M’s more than 120 years of expertise in producing materials science-based solutions at scale is unparalleled and will aid us in our efforts to capture millions of tons of CO2 from diverse sites around the world.”
Because of the wide array of markets the company serves, Letourneau says Svante’s technology can be applied to 85% of the total rapidly escalating carbon capture and removal industry.
3M Ventures, the venture capital arm of 3M, recently participated in Svante’s Series E fundraising round, which raised a record-breaking $318 million to accelerate the manufacturing of the carbon capture and removal technology.
“With 51 technology platforms across 3M, we’re innovating and creating new technology capabilities to meet the growing needs of the carbon capture and removal market,” said Fabrice Moguet, senior vice president of research and development for 3M’s Safety and Industrial business group. “To fulfil Svante’s needs and help combat climate change, we’ll need to scale to thousands of miles of technical material over the next few years, and we’re excited to manufacture our first products in the United States for Svante’s direct air capture applications.”
The joint development agreement between 3M and Svante will focus on solutions using parallel channel-structured adsorbent technology for sale into the carbon dioxide removal industry.