Welcome back! Join Dylan and Julian Turecek, CEO of AspiraDAC, on this episode of Hardware to Save a Planet and explore the exciting world of direct air capture (DAC) technology and its potential for CO2 removal from the atmosphere. 

Julian shares his insights on the energy requirements, challenges, and cost-effectiveness of DAC. Discover AspiraDac’s innovative approach of integrating renewable energy supply with capture technology and how they use metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) as carbon absorbent materials.

About Julian

Julian is an experienced energy executive and carbon market practitioner with almost 30 years in the industry. He is a former Investment Manager at Cleantech Ventures and has worked for ASX Top 50 firms, such as Origin Energy and BHP, as an electricity, gas, and environmental markets trading manager in regulatory and government affairs and venture capital. Julian specializes in the clean energy sector.

What is direct air capture?

Direct air capture, or DAC, is the process of removing CO2 directly from atmospheric air, and it is seen as one of the most promising approaches to carbon removal. The pros are technology readiness levels, ease of monitoring and verifying the process, and the viability of storing the captured CO2 underground. The cons pivot around an energy-hungry process, scalability, and costs that experts believe we need to achieve. AspiraDACs solution addresses the cons by offering scalability and cost efficiency while using renewable energy.

Want to learn more?

Check out the key takeaways of this episode below. Better still, listen to the podcast!

Key highlights

  • 16:27 – 18:53 – How a modular solution brings economies of scale: Julian mentions that their initial target is removing one ton of CO2 per day and then scaling up to 5,000 tons per year, which is a 15X scale. As the solution is scaled, the number of modules required rises exponentially. This, in turn, brings economies of scale in manufacturing the modules making the solution both scalable and cost effective. Julian likens the process to making cars, the more you manufacture, the cheaper the car becomes.
  • 23:03 – 25:21 – Using sustainable energy with PV cells: Julian explains how the business model is not to be another DAC company that’s looking for renewable energy grid supply. Instead, the company plans to tap into a technology configuration that uses solar PV cells with batteries to create a captive energy plant. The modular design of the energy plant with inverters, utility-scale batteries, and solar cells makes the energy source renewable, scalable, and cost-efficient.
  • 32:03 – 32:58 – Scalability and the supply chain risks: You can’t have a risk-free startup. Every startup has its unique risk profile that cuts across capital risk, technology risk, and risk around the business model. Julian explains that they have mitigated the risks at their startup by building de-risking strategies around each risk. Having a plan A is not enough, you also need a plan B and a plan C. If you’re handling risks, you’ve got a range of different strategies that you can employ, depending on which risks come to fruition and which risks don’t materialize, and then you can go down that path toward your goal.

Episode resources