Frontier facilitates first carbon removal purchases
June 29, 2022
June 29, 2022
Earlier this year, Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify, Meta, and McKinsey Sustainability launched Frontier, an advance market commitment to accelerate the development of carbon removal technologies. A few months later, after careful review from an advisory panel of 19 scientists and industry experts, Frontier has facilitated its first purchases—from AspiraDAC, Calcite-Origen, Lithos Carbon, RepAir, Travertine, and Living Carbon—on behalf of Stripe.
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is critical to achieving climate goals, alongside radical emissions reductions. Models project that by 2050 we will need to permanently remove billions of tons of CO₂ from the atmosphere every year. To date, fewer than 10,000 tons have been removed in total.
Frontier aims to catalyze new solutions that bridge this enormous gap. These initial six companies represent a diverse group of promising, early-stage technologies, and we are pleased to be the first customer for all of them.
The majority of Frontier’s $1B of committed capital will go toward multiyear offtake agreements designed to give the most promising carbon removal solutions a pathway to scale. With an offtake, Frontier’s members agree to pay for future carbon removal supply at the time it’s delivered. However, in order for there to be enough companies eligible for offtakes in future years, we must get a critical mass of promising companies to the starting line now. Over the next few years, low-volume prepurchases—like those we’re announcing today—will continue to be an area of focus for Frontier.
Several themes emerged from the 26 applications reviewed as part of this round of purchases:
Stripe will spend $2.4M buying carbon removal from these six companies, with another $5.4M contingent on projects reaching agreed upon technical milestones. Prices range between $500 and $1.8K per ton of carbon removed, and we’re excited to be the first customer for all six projects. To view project applications, purchase contracts, and renewal criteria, visit Frontier’s GitHub.
AspiraDAC is building a modular, solar-powered DAC system with the energy supply integrated into the modules. One of the biggest opportunities for DAC to scale is by increasing its ability to integrate with renewable electricity. AspiraDAC’s modular approach allows it to experiment with a more distributed scale-up. Its MOF sorbent has low temperature heat requirements and cheap material inputs, increasing the likelihood that AspiraDAC can help accelerate the production of lower-cost MOFs, which historically have been expensive and difficult to synthesize.
This project blends the novel Calcite air contactor design from 8 Rivers with Origen’s strengths in calcination. Their DAC technology accelerates the natural process of carbon mineralization by contacting highly reactive slaked lime with ambient air to capture CO₂. The resulting carbonate minerals are calcined to create a concentrated CO₂ stream for geologic storage, and then looped continuously. The inexpensive materials and fast cycle time make this a promising approach to affordable capture at scale.
Mineral weathering naturally captures CO₂ at gigaton scale. Lithos accelerates this by spreading basalt on croplands to increase dissolved inorganic carbon with eventual storage as ocean bicarbonate. Its technology uses novel soil models and machine learning to maximize CO₂ removal while boosting crop growth. The team is scaling its empirical verification, river network, and plant-tissue studies to advance measurement of CO₂ drawdown and ecosystem impact. Lithos is focused on the differentiators for building low-cost, high-removal, enhanced weathering—establishing the right supplier and distribution partnerships and, most importantly, developing robust MRV grounded in significant learnings from well-instrumented, long-term field trials.
RepAir uses clean electricity to capture CO₂ from the air using a novel electrochemical cell, and then stores the CO₂ underground via a partnership with Carbfix. The demonstrated energy efficiency of RepAir’s capture step is already notable and continues to advance. This approach has the potential to deliver low-cost carbon removal that minimizes strain on the electrical grid.
Travertine is working to reengineer chemical production for CO₂ removal. Using electrochemistry, Travertine produces sulfuric acid to accelerate the weathering of ultramafic mine tailings, releasing CO₂ reactive elements that convert CO₂ into carbonate minerals that are stable on geologic timescales. Their process also releases metals that are critical to decarbonizing transportation and electricity generation.
Living Carbon is developing a novel approach to synthesize a durable biopolymer within algae to sequester atmospheric CO₂ at scale. As a first step, Living Carbon is conducting research to select the optimal algae strain and demonstrate expression and activity of key enzymes of the biopolymer synthesis pathway within the algae. Initial research also aims to better understand how the field thinks about the durability of sporopollenin. Synthetic biology is a nascent but exciting tool for carbon removal that has promise both as a standalone solution like Living Carbon and as an amplifier across pathways like bio-enhanced mineralization.
Frontier is an advance market commitment to buy an initial $1B+ of carbon removal between 2022 and 2030.
If you are a carbon removal supplier building an early-pilot, precommercial facility, or an at-scale deployment, we’d love to hear from you. Learn a bit more about our next purchase cycle and how to get in touch.
If you are interested in becoming a buyer of carbon removal through Frontier, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.