For the carbon dioxide removal (“CDR”) field, breadth is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. On the bright side, the numerous approaches to CDR suggest the potential for deploying a diverse portfolio of CDR projects that reduces both the risks and costs of preventing climate change. But the down side of breadth is complexity, which makes the CDR field difficult to explain and envision, and can lead to confusion about how to catalyze development of CDR approaches as a result.
In the graphic below, I’ve attempted to categorize and map the most prominent aspects of CDR in as comprehensive and clear a manner as possible:
It is critical to note that not all of the elements of this graphic are exclusive to CDR. For example, direct air capture (“DAC”) machines can be used to create hydrocarbon fuels (instead of for carbon sequestration purposes). In a similar manner, biochar can be burned to create electricity instead of applied to soils as a carbon sink. Even more broadly, compressed CO2 can come from many places, including from fossil-fueled power plants with carbon capture and sequestration (“CCS”) systems. Unpacking how each of the elements for various CDR processes fit into wider industrial systems is critical for designing effective strategies for developing various CDR approaches — hopefully this visualization of the field can help with that process